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National treasure

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国宝 (guóbǎo): national treasure

The Panda.jpg

In online political discourse, “national treasure” is a code word for the homonym 国保, is an abbreviation for the Domestic Security Department (国内安全保卫支队, DSD). The DSD is a branch of the police force within the Ministry of Public Security specializing in intelligence, infiltration, and dealing with political dissidents, human rights activists, petitioners, religious groups, as well as “subversive” activities in the cultural, educational, and economic domains. It is a massive, secretive, and omnipotent security apparatus within the giant police machine of the P.R.C.

The DSD are more feared and reviled than the regular police, because they are not subject to the same oversight and have been known to beat and illegally detain dissidents. Activist Hu Jia and renown artist Ai Weiwei have both been detained and beaten by the DSD, while Liu Xia, wife of Nobel-prize winning democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, remains under illegal house arrest and surveillance by them.

Sometimes “panda” (熊猫 xióngmāo) is used as a code word for the DSD, since the panda is China’s national treasure. The panda is also a symbol for the DSD in some political cartoons drawn by cartoonist Crazy Crab.

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