Chinese President Xi Jinping is already poised to be the most powerful man in Chinese history after Mao Zedong, and proposed reforms to the country’s paramilitary police force would all but guarantee that position if they are passed. The People’s Armed Police Internal Guard Corps is a 600,000 strong paramilitary police force with military-grade weapons and specialized training in counter-terrorism and anti-riot policing. Right now, the Corps answers to China’s civilian leadership as well as the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. Proposed reforms would place the paramilitary force under the control of the Chinese president, relocating a key structure in containing social unrest and domestic security from a fractured control system scattered throughout the Chinese system to the direct control of Xi Jinping.
As Beijing and the Communist Party ready themselves for the 19th Party Congress in 2017, President Xi has been in the midst of a frequently mentioned but often misunderstood factional reshuffling. President Xi is consolidating authority and attempting to control the evolution of China’s political and social reforms in the face of an unavoidable slowing of the economy. If the proposed reforms to the leadership of the People’s Armed Police go through, expect Xi to follow through with reforms targeting the most ossified and entrenched (read: corrupt and powerful) factions of the Party, with the full force of 600,000 paramilitary forces poised to reign in any threats of resistance or unrest.