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The Police Uniforms of China

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I recently returned from a 10 day trip to China where I was visiting with my girlfriend’s family. We also brought my father along so that he could meet her family and so that we could show him some of the sights. It turns out that a friend of my girlfriend from high school is a police officer in Weinan County, Shaanxi Province, and he graciously offered to give us a tour of the local police station and introduce us to his direct superior at the precinct.

The Current State of Affairs Between East and West

Though this was my third trip to China, I didn’t know what we would expect with regard to the current political state. From my experience, everyone (including the law enforcement officers we met) didn’t seem to be too moved, if at all, but the current tensions between our two countries. Most of all, everyone seemed genuinely thrilled to meet people who had traveled so far to visit their city and they were interested to connect with us as fellow human beings.

When visiting with the police officers at the precinct, we brought a gift of a collection of police badges from various departments and agencies here in the USA. After sharing a cup of tea with the officers and learning about the Chinese approach to police work, they gave us a gift of finely aged Chinese black tea.

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Me, my girlfriend, my father, and the two officers who gave us the tour

The Styles of Chinese Police Uniforms

Generally, the uniform trends we observed were very similar to those we typically see in the USA. However, I noticed that most officers in China tend to wear a version of a Class A uniform. While often considerably less tailored than their USA counterparts, the officers almost always wore a crisp Class A shirt and trousers or a dress blouse with trousers.

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Chinese officer wearing a Class A uniform

The only exception to this that I noticed was with those functioning primarily as security guards, such as this guard we encountered at the Great Wall of China.

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Security guard at the Great Wall of China

I didn’t notice any uniformity to their footwear, so I can only presume that officer wear their own shoes, and the only standard I could detect is that they must be black. Other than that, I saw a lot of variety in the footwear.

We also learned that officers don’t carry firearms in China. They’re trained in the use of firearms and in less lethal instruments such as clubs and sprays, though these items are seldom used. The trend in police work seems to be with prevention and diligent monitoring of the citizens, which allows law enforcement to be proactive. This of course comes at a cost that most US citizens would find quite objectionable, but it’s fascinating to learn about nonetheless.

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Local police visiting us at our hotel for passport information

Passport and visa information

As our hotel was in an area which seldom sees western visitors, the hotels don’t automatically link to the government immigration system. Therefore, shortly after checking into the hotel we were visited by three law enforcement officers from the local precinct who came to gather our passport and visa information. They were extremely friendly and courteous, and even gladly took the time to pose for a picture with us.

Summary

We found the local law enforcement to be extremely friendly and welcoming, and I had the sense that they genuinely were looking out for us foreigners to make sure we remained safe during our visit. The local precinct was extremely clean and neat, and actually felt more like an office building than a police precinct, possibly because the crime rate is so incredibly low in the county city. I felt very safe knowing that the city had security cameras everywhere. They didn’t feel intrusive at all, but were present just enough to add a sense of security.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the reasons for the various uniform choices. I’d also be curious to know if there are officers who wear a more tactical style uniform.

I travel internationally several times per year. I plan to do similar posts in the future about the law enforcement uniforms of any other countries I visit.

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