The central government has promoted 28 armed police officers to the rank of major-general in a move observers believe could help combat rampant crime and widespread riots.
Before yesterday's announcement by the Ministry of Public Security, only 35 armed police officers had risen to the rank of general.
Mainland media described the news as the biggest promotion in the armed police since the mainland adopted the military ranking system in 1988.
The newly appointed generals include officers in charge of the fire services branch, various border patrol units and the armed police academy. Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang asked the appointees to rally around President Hu Jintao and follow the Communist Party's leadership.
'You must help consolidate the Communist Party's position as the ruling party, protect the public and safeguard national security and stability,' Mr Zhou was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
Hong Kong-based mainland observer Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the record number of promotions was designed to combat widespread crime in cities and the increasing number of riots in the countryside. He said the central government also wanted to boost morale among police officers.
'Safety on the streets is getting worse in major cities. In Guangzhou, for instance, there are 68 reported robberies every day. Many people complain about the rampant crime,' he said. 'In the countryside, there are more riots over land disputes and other issues. Ordinary police can no longer cope with the situation and they often have to ask armed police to help.'
Mr Lau said Beijing had realised that the increasing workload and danger had badly affected police morale, and the authorities had decided to make changes. 'The record promotion is a reflection of China's crime situation. Beijing wants to maintain social stability.'