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Philosophy of Community Policing in China

Wong, Kam C.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Police Quarterly 4(2):186-214.

Part I of this article states the focus and justifications of this research, which is an effort to contrast American and Chinese community-policing philosophy and practice. Part 2, which serves both as a literature review and a comparative context for the study of China’s community policing philosophy, reviews the evolution of the American approach to community policing. Part 3 then describes the philosophy of Chinese community policing, past and present, compared with the Western mode. Part 4 discusses the lessons learned through this investigation of Chinese community policing philosophy. The article notes that the Chinese social control system is based in three broad principles: reformation of the offender, restoration of the social relationship, and reintegration of the offender into the community. The philosophy of Chinese policing, conceptually and operationally, is determined by Communist political ideology that has been incrementally refined through time and variously interpreted by different leaders. The Chinese leadership has advocated that the people, or the mass, is the master of its own destiny. Practically and operationally, this means the police must view social control from the people’s perspective, seek their support, and be amenable to their supervision. Any policing detached and isolated from the people would not be effective in identifying local problems and detecting hidden criminality. In the United States, social control is imposed externally and formally. Social control is organized, bureaucratized, and legalized, and it is applied by and through the police. The police engage and involve the public only when required. Community policing as developed in the United States means that the police are the dominant social control agents, albeit with the indispensable help and mandatory supervision of the people.


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