Beijing police bureau chief Fu Zhenghua marched on the frontline alongside counter-terrorist police as the country bumps up public security against potential terrorist attacks, Chinese media said.
Fu, who is also a deputy chief of China’s Public Security Ministry, has gone on several armed patrols with senior special police officers around Beijing’s railway stations in the past few days, the Beijing Youth Daily said. More than 2,700 senior police officials have been ordered to follow in Fu’s footsteps and serve on the frontline to help “combat terrorism and maintain stability”.
The armed patrols Fu has headed has mainly been in locations deemed critical to public security, like the city’s four railway stations, the report said. In recent months railway stations in several cities across the nation have been targeted in violent attacks .
The 58-year-old Beijing police tsar, who is perhaps the most high-profile police officer in the nation, has previously participated in similar patrols. Last month he was photographed sporting the uniform of a special police officer, wearing a tactical police vest and armed with a handgun while he marched on the streets and directed frontline officers “to ensure they take down the enemy with one shot”.
He has also grabbed media headlines after being photographed inspecting security arrangements of the city’s college entrance exam centres, and for responding quickly to a teen assault case after a video showing the attack went viral online.
Fu has been tipped to head a special investigation into Zhou Yongkang, the nation’s former security tsar and previously one of the most powerful party elites. The case could potentially lead to an “unprecedented scandal” for the Communist Party, South China Morning Post previously reported.
Fu started his career as a forensic expert and first gained prominence in 2010 when he launched a stringent citywiide “anti-vice campaign” including a crackdown on an elite nightclub, defying the predictions of some who said he was committing career suicide.
But Fu’s administration over the years has not been without controversy. Critics have blamed him for his role in carrying out crackdowns on civil movements and arrests of several human rights activists including lawyer Xu Zhiyong.
Under Fu, Beijing also led a nationwide campaign against "online rumours", which was suspected by critics as an attempt to suppress freedom of speech on the internet.
Some critics have drawn parallels with former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun. He was once the most prominent police chief in the country for his high-profile campaign against organised crime and master of publicity stunts portraying himself as a heroic figure.
However in 2012 Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted for abuse of power and for his involvement in the Bo Xilai scandal. Human rights lawyers and activists accused him of resorting to torture to extort confessions from suspects.
Veteran rights activist Hu Jia told the Post that Fu and Wang are similar in that they were both granted tremendous amounts of power within the police.
“Fu is the first person in the party’s history to serve as vice minister of public security while at the same time a regional police chief. This enables him to order police across the nation to coordinate with Beijing to ‘maintain stability’,” said Hu, referring to the Communist Party’s strategy to suppress dissidents at any cost.
Hu also called Fu “heavy-handed” in suppressing dissidents. “Like Wang, Fu also resorts to illegal measures such as abuse of detention in order to maintain stability.”
Hu was jailed for three and a half years in 2008 for "inciting subversion of state power" for his civil rights activism, and is now under house arrest.