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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)

Homonymous with 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 specializing in the handling of political dissidents, human rights activists, petitioners, religious groups, and “subversive” activities.

Since they are not subject to the same oversight, DSD officials are more feared and reviled than the regular police; they have been known to beat and illegally detain dissidents. Activist Hu Jia and renowned 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 as she endures illegal house arrest.

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

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