Public warned over violence as attacks on police escalate

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2005, 12:00am

A string of violent attacks against police officers has prompted the Ministry of Public Security to warn the public against resorting to violent confrontations with police.

The ministry said the public should treat officers in a mature and rational manner. In the first half of this year, 23 police officers were killed in confrontations with members of the public. A further 1,803 were injured.

According to Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang , the number of mass protests nationwide increased from 10,000 in 1994 to more than 74,000 last year, with 3.76 million people involved.

The most recent fatality occurred in the Liaoning capital, Shenyang , on Monday when a traffic officer was dragged 100 metres by a motorised pedicab and then run over by the vehicle, the Huashang Morning Post reports.

The driver, who fled the scene, was believed to have argued with the officer before he started the pedicab.

Other incidents include last week's stabbing of a Jilin officer at a police station and a deadly attack in April on an officer trying to break up a fight between two gangs in Anhui .

In all, 170 officers throughout the nation died and 3,212 were wounded in the line of duty in the first half of the year.

There are more than 1.6 million police officers on the mainland.

Ministry spokesman Wu Heping said the community was aware of the problem of violence targeted at police and told the People's Daily that the ministry should intensify crackdowns on lawlessness.

Mr Wu said that the public should understand that interfering with police while they were doing their duties was proscribed by criminal law.

'When police officers are on duty, they are not acting in their interests but are carrying out what the state's laws require them to,' Mr Wu said.

He urged the public to register complaints with public security authorities or use the courts to resolve disagreements.

The ministry said it would make police protection a higher priority and require local public security departments to instruct staff in self-defence and the handling of citizens.

Wang Dawei , from the Chinese People's Public Security University in Beijing, said regulations governing police weapons were so strict that officers were cautious about using firearms.

'Police obedience to the rules has made criminals feel less afraid and sometimes police officers have sacrificed their lives to live up to principles,' Dr Wang said.

He said the public should better understand police work.

'Chinese police have 2.5 times the annual workload of other civil servants and earn much lower salaries,' Dr Wang said.