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National treasure

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国宝 (guóbǎo): national treasure

Panda Police (Crazy Crab of Hexie Farm)
Big Panda is watching you. (@张发财)

Homonym of 国保, the abbreviation for the Domestic Security Department (国内安全保卫支队 Guónèi Ānquán Bǎowèi Zhīduì, DSD). The DSD is a branch of the police force within the Ministry of Public Security specialized in handling political dissidents, human rights activists, petitioners, religious groups, and “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 People’s Republic.

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 their watchful eye while she endures illegal house arrest.

The panda, China’s national treasure, is often used as a symbol of the DSD.

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