China’s Cops Kill Fewer Than America’s Cops

Police in America shot dead 1200 people last year. Chinese police killed 12

I was browsing world incarceration and police kill rates when I put out this tweet:

It definitely struck a nerve with some folks and I got a little push-back. If you adjust the numbers by population, China has about 4 times more people. It doesn’t look good for the US.

The US prison population is 2.2 million. We also have about 5 million people under some type of probation or parole at any one time. Police in the US kill around 1000 citizens annually. 1200 in 2015 alone.

China officially incarcerates 1.6 million individuals, but that number is certainly under-counted and is probably over 2 million. The highest incarceration estimate in China (unsubstantiated) I found was 4 million. That includes all types of political prisoners, pre-trial detentions, forced labor camps, etc.

Yes, it is unknown how many people China executes a year. Annual estimates for the last few years are between 5,000 (2010) and 2,400 (2015.)  For comparison, the US executed 35 people in 2014. That kind of evens out the killed by police rate. Hey, at least China gives them some kind “Due Process” before putting them in front of a firing squad.

That is still HALF of our rate of incarceration in the US. Adjusted for population, China would have to incarcerate 8.8 million, and kill 4,800 just to EQUAL the US rate.

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Frankly, I think the 12 killed people by China’s police in 2014 is accurate and may be better documented behind the Bamboo Curtain than imagined. In 2015, that number went up to about 50 people killed by police. They killed 28 of those people at one time in an “anti-terrorist” operation. China has 1.7 million cops and have been unarmed for decades (so is the general public, so there’s that). They are just now issuing a few guns to police. It is quite controversial and publicly discussed.

This AP story is informative: Shootings rise after China gives its police guns By DIDI TANG

The incidents — which have generated widespread media coverage and social media buzz — come after authorities decided in April to issue guns to patrolling officers to better protect the public and improve police response to crime and attacks.

The trigger seems to have been a brazen attack by a group of assailants who stabbed 29 people to death and wounded 140 others in train station in the southern province of Yunnan. Officials blamed the attack on extremists from the western Xinjiang region.

For decades, Chinese police were unarmed because the country has very little gun violence and firearms are hard to obtain. The change leaves Britain, Norway and New Zealand among developed countries where patrolling police officers generally aren’t armed.

“Broadening the right (to carry guns) to more police officers could bring more harm than good if they do not follow the laws,” said Liu Zhirong, an independent scholar who was once a researcher at an elite Chinese military police academy. “Police must learn to minimize use of force.”

The Public Security Ministry has the daunting task of training hundreds of thousands of local police on how to handle a deadly weapon in the line of duty. The Chinese police force is 1.7 million strong, and it isn’t clear how many will be armed. In Shanghai, about 1,000 of its 40,000 police began carrying standard-issue revolvers during routine patrols in April.

Experts worry that the training will focus too much on technical aspects, such as firing accuracy, and not enough on psychological and legal aspects, such as when to draw the gun and how to quickly size up chaotic situations.

“I even wonder if some police officers have ever seen a gun,” said Hong Daode, a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law. “We are

basically starting from zero.”

Before they can take aim at a suspect, police are required by law to identify themselves, issue verbal warnings and shoot into the air. If they do fire at a person, they are supposed to aim for non-vital body parts.

Source: The Libertarian Institute