The Lockdown Protests in China Meet the Intelligence and Security Apparatus

Here are two very recent forums where I had opportunities to reflect on the intersection between China’s security and intelligence apparatus and the nationwide lockdown protests:

As a result of the tragedy in Urumqi, protestors in China are almost certainly motivated by the fear that they themselves might become fire, earthquake, or flood victims should they need to evacuate a locked-down location.

Secondly, if demonstrators did not previously understand the extent to which their mobile phones were miniature spies-in-the-pocket, they certainly do now. That realization could alter the way people in China handle their cell phones. Imaginative ways to circumvent the surveillance system could develop.

Finally, the protests will probably soon be suppressed. But if they continue, the next step could be to call in the  People’s Armed Police  (PAP), which is a different organ of state security than the Public Security Bureaus around the country. The PAP is little understood outside of China – but is an extremely powerful tool with vast resources. They are trained to quickly put down mass civil disturbances with overwhelming force, but to do so without resorting to the June Fourth, 1989 solution of machine-gunning the citizenry in the streets.



Non-resident Fellow,  The Jamestown Foundation  and Contributing Editor,  SpyTalk  San Jose, CaliforniaMobile (Signal enabled): +1-408-891-5187


Author: mattbrazil_j6jhco

Matt Brazil is the co-author of Chinese Communist Espionage, An Intelligence Primer. He is a contributing editor at and a Research Fellow with the China Program at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC. Matt has worked as an industrial security professional, university lecturer, soldier, and diplomat. He is researching a second book on Beijing's espionage apparatus, tentatively entitled China's Secret Wars, from Mao to Now.

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