According to a China Police Daily report on December 14, Chinese police on patrols will be armed with a specially designed revolver this year, the first time that the Ministry of Public Security has invested in and designed a firearm for its police force.
The design of the new 9mm revolver, which utilizes both rubber bullets and live rounds, was finalized in November 2005.
"I have been working as a policeman in Anhui Province and Shanghai for over 30 years. I have only used my pistol once," said Wang Dongquan, who believes a firearm is and should only be used as a deterrent.
This was echoed by Sun Min, a Shanghai policeman of two years' standing, who admits to rarely having his pistol with him when he's on patrol.
"Firing a gun isn't the only way to control a situation," Sun said.
Wu Xiaoqing, a traffic police officer in Shanghai, isn't too excited about the new revolver. He prefers to work without guns because "I am afraid the revolver will go off."
Shi Lei, a member of the special police in Shanghai, said that China's law specifically gives the police the right to fire a weapon, and provides for the situations when he can do so.
But he admitted that any use must be substantiated, which can add a lot of pressure on the police officer.
Hence, rubber bullets. Wang Lei, a professor with the Chinese People's Public Security University, believes rubber bullets provide an alternative for the police officer while at the same time helping with law enforcement. "Lives of criminals should be respected too," Wang said.
Choice of firearm
When police uniforms were changed six years ago, the question was also raised as to what sort of firearm would help them carry out their duties more effectively and efficiently.
A decision was made in favor of the revolver. Prof. Wang explained that with its big casing, long grip and heavy caliber, the revolver was the most practical choice. The amplitude of its barrel is lower than the semi-automatic because of its lower center of gravity. More important, its malfunction rate is much lower than the semi-automatic, making it a much safer option.
Change also likely for Hong Kong police
The Hong Kong authorities are also considering changing the firearms for its police force, from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols.
According to the Public Relations Branch of the Hong Kong Police Force, the issue, which was first mooted last year, will be further discussed this year.
Hong Kong police have armed themselves with revolvers made in the US since 1844. In fact, most of the firearms exported to Hong Kong were from the US, up until 1997, when the US restricted exports.
They were also faced with the challenge of maintaining their weapons, in particular the Colt .38 revolver, after it went out of production in 1996.
In addition, their revolvers were soon no match for the type 54 pistols and AK-47 assault rifles brandished by criminals.
(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan, January 24, 2006)