The Chinese Paramilitary Police Force has approximately 1.5 million officers and serves as a back up to the military in times of war. It is also responsible for counterterrorism, putting down protests, border protection, firefighting, and providing guard detail for key government buildings. Even though the Paramilitary Police Force remains separate from the army, their training is similar, and they must always be prepared for a possible war. The country’s unique circumstances, such as the proximity to North Korea, means that the possibility of needing to defend themselves is highly likely.
The training that the Chinese Paramilitary Police Force undergoes is significantly more intense than that of other countries. The recruits must first go to police school, where classes are designed to weed out the weak. There are several training centres for the police force, including Beijing People’s Police College which is in Northwestern Beijing. The campus covers approximately 2 kilometres and is the largest training centre in Asia. The school has a large crime scene simulation area, DNA laboratories, and lecture and training facilities. Recruits are required to be Beijing residents, and only 600 are accepted from the thousands that apply each year. Most of the recruits are male, with average classes of 40 pupils having 6 women.
Once the recruits graduate from college, their training continues at a military training facility. Physical drills are designed to develop hardcore military and include:
Mud Training – Members of the police force are required to train on muddy fields, with tasks aimed towards restraining suspects, and defending themselves and the public. The recruits play the part of both detainer and detainee and are often forced face down in the mud, with their hands pinned behind their back. They also take part in martial arts training, both with opponents and single man drills. Strength training includes lifting giant logs and running with a boat through fields of muddy water.
Combat Practice – Paramilitary police may be required to defend themselves against an attack with a deadly weapon. Preparation drills often include fighting each other while armed with knives, or guns. The trainees are also required to crawl under barbed wire fences, often with fire obstacles, with their weapons in tow.
Winter Training – It is important for the police to be able to perform under all weather conditions. Winter sessions include: topless drills in the snow to build harsh climate endurance, including standing in perfect formation for extended periods.
Training also requires the officers to do other drills including headstands, prolonged jumping and balancing drills, as well as putting their faces into bowls filled with water to learn to hold their breath.