SOF a Priority in China

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Several Chinese government entities perform activities that fall under the rubric of special operations. China’s primary anti-terrorist forces are elements of the civilian Ministry of Public Security (MPS) police and paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP). People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Special Operations Forces (SOF) also are trained for anti-terrorism tasks along with other missions.

MPS special police teams (similar to SWAT teams in other countries) are found in every province to conduct anti-terrorist, anti-drug, anti-riot, and other criminal law enforcement activities. They are usually clad in black (identified as special police) and equipped with a variety of special-purpose armored vehicles and helicopters in some locales. Civilian police forces can be reinforced by PAP Special Operations units from internal security and border security units. In addition, the PAP has two special anti-terrorist units, the “Snow Leopards” and “Falcon Commando Unit,” located in Beijing. PAP SOF units may be equipped with armored vehicles (often painted white or camouflage and marked as PAP) and increasingly are supported by helicopters. Training conducted by these units and “oath swearing ceremonies” are frequently covered by the Chinese media to serve as deterrents to domestic terrorist or extremist activities. Often anti-terrorist training is conducted as a part of anti-riot training, potentially conflating what usually is two very different types of threats.

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