China Media Project fellow Xiao Shu comments on the investigation into private security company Anyuanding, which has been accused of detaining petitioners in Beijing “black jails” on behalf of local governments:
(Image from a job ad for a security officer position posted online by Anyuanding)
They were equipped with police truncheons, attack dogs, private jails and special armored vehicles. The whole escort organization, for so it was called, was staffed much like a military outfit: one political commissar, one battalion chief, three captains, a central battalion made up of two to three companies, and seven or eight men to a company. They were outfitted just like riot police, with the same uniforms and helmets. On their left and right shoulders were dark patches emblazoned with white characters: “Special Service.”
And this entire apparatus of violence was operated as a private enterprise. Put another way, this was the private militia of legend. And the fact that this private militia could operate for so many years is something that leaves us all staring speechlessly.
…Why do we need political reform? The reason is right here before us.
The crux of this development mode is our traditional political system. The stability preservation mechanisms of many of these local governments today are merely adaptations of the traditional political system to suit the age of the market economy.
Against this backdrop, these recent revelations about the private security firm Anyuanding are timely. They can rouse us to a realization of the evils of our traditional system as it has become inbred with the market, and show us the extremes to which these evils can reach.
For this reason, political reforms cannot wait. We can glimpse from this the importance of the fact that Premier Wen Jiabao, at a recent national meeting on lawful administration, and as he emphasized the need for political reform, particularly stressed the importance of building a law-based government, and the need for all offices and agencies to conduct themselves in accord with the law and the Constitution.