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China: Around The Nation

Meet the Chinese undercover cop who gave it all up for love and a security guard’s uniform

Former beauty salon owner who served six years in prison for blinding an employee calls time on 11-year police career

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 4:42pm

An undercover police officer in eastern China who once served six years in prison for blinding a man is hanging up his uniform and handing back his badge to pursue a completely new career … as a security guard.

Born and raised in Zhejiang province, Xu Zhongbao helped put hundreds of criminals behind bars during his 11 years of service, local newspaper Wenzhou Evening Post reported on Tuesday.

By infiltrating crime syndicates and underworld gangs he was able to collect the evidence the authorities needed to make successful prosecutions.

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But Xu has not always found himself on the right side of the law.

In 2000, he intervened in a violent quarrel between a man and his wife – both of whom worked for him at the beauty salon he owned and ran in Hangzhou, Zhejiang’s capital. The report did not give any details of the event, but the husband ended up blind and Xu was arrested, tried and sent to prison.

Things only got worse once he was behind bars, as his wife told him she wanted a divorce and he was forced to sell his beloved salon.

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On his release in 2006, Xu applied to join Hangzhou police, and was taken on as an auxiliary officer. He quickly progressed through the ranks and before long was made an undercover investigator, the report said.

It was a role that suited him well. Having learned all manner of tricks, cheats and cons from his fellow convicts while in prison he was able to convince the crime gangs he joined that he was a legitimate crook. He won their trust, so he could later betray them and bring them to justice.

But being an undercover police officer was not only about fighting crime; it also turned out to be about finding love.

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During an operation last year while investigating burglaries at a clothing market in Hangzhou, Xu met the woman who would become his new wife.

The report did not say when the couple tied the knot or why Xu decided to give up policing to become a security guard at a property management firm, but perhaps that is a story for another day.