Beijing: President Xi Jinping has ordered the armed police force to uphold the "absolute leadership" of the ruling Communist Party of China as the force has been brought under the CPC's command for the first time.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) - the overall high command of the 2.3 million-strong military, made the remarks at a ceremony by the CMC to confer a flag on the armed police force.
Recently the armed police was ordered to function under the CMC which in turn functions under the CPC. Since 1982 the armed police force which focused on law and order functioned under central cabinet known as state council.
Previously disgraced top officials like Zhou Yongkong, who headed the internal security under former president Hu Jintao, were rumoured to have made use of it to attempt a coup against the central leadership.
After Xi came to power in 2013, Zhou has been prosecuted for corruption and misuse of power and jailed for life. Now the armed force functions directly under the CMC which means Xi will have a strong grip over the force.
Observers here said the move is aimed at consolidating Xi's leadership as he began his second five-year tenure in October, emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader in recent years.
Xi asked the armed police force to resolutely follow the CPC's instructions and fully implement the CPC's thought on building a strong army in the new era, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
He stressed the significance of placing the armed police under the unified leadership of the CPC and the CMC.
The adjustment in the leading and command system of the armed police force is "an important political decision" the CPC made to fully realise the absolute leadership of the Party over all armed forces and to develop "a socialist military system with Chinese characteristics," Xi said.
"The move has vital and profound effect on building a strong military for the new era and modernising the country's system and capacity for governance," he said.
In accordance with a statement by the CPC Central Committee released last month, the armed police force would be put under the command of the CPC Central Committee and CMC from January 1 and would no longer be under the authority of the state council.
Stating that the armed police force is an important part of the people's armed forces led by the CPC, Xi said the force bears major responsibility in safeguarding national security and social stability, as well as protecting people's lives.
"The armed police force plays an important role in safeguarding political security, especially the security of the political power and system," Xi said.
He asked the armed police force to accelerate its integration into the joint combat system of the armed forces, enhance reform and innovation, and strive to build a strong and modern armed force.
The armed police force must focus on real combat training and readiness for war, remain on high alert as always, and better deal with emergencies and terrorism.
Xi also stressed the importance of discipline, demanding increased efforts to contain corruption and purify the political ecology of the armed police force.