ATC180606: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Study Visit to the People’s Republic of China between 8 – 15 October 2017, dated 6 June 2018
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Study Visit to the People’s Republic of China between 8 – 15 October 2017, dated 6 June 2018.
The Portfolio Committee on Police (hereinafter the delegation) embarked on a study visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which is the equivalent of the Portfolio Committee on Police in South Africa.
The aim of the visit was to provide the delegation with a first-hand opportunity to interact with their counterparts of the NPC as well as other relevant institutions and organisations, and share ideas on best practices and innovation in areas of Police Training, Municipal Policing, Technology, trans-national crime and the involvement of citizens in curbing crime. The study tour further allowed the delegation to gain an insight on the pieces of legislation which the NPC is working on to enhance the policing of crime.
The delegation was comprised of the following members of Parliament;
- Mr F Beukman (Leader of delegation)
- Mr L Ramatlakane
- Ms A Molebatsi
- Mr P Mhlongo
- Mr Z Mbhele
- Mr P Gwebu (Committee Secretary)
The study visit was conducted through a series of meetings arranged by the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the NPC. The first leg of the visit was in Beijing for three days (10 – 12 October 2017), which was followed by a set of meetings in Shanghai over two days (13 – 14 October 2017).
2. Beijing Visit: 10 – 12 October 2017
Mr Li Lu, a member of the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), who briefed the delegation about the programme for the entire visit, welcomed the delegation at the Beijing International Airport. A brief political meeting was also held with the South African mission in Beijing.
2.2 Briefing by the South African Embassy Officials
The delegation made a courtesy visit to the South African mission in Beijing. Due to a busy schedule, the South African Ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China, Ambassador Dolana Msimang was unable to brief the delegation upon arrival in Beijing. The briefing by Counsellor Ms Christine Rossi focused on China’s political situation, the influence of the Communist Party of China, its political and economic relations with South Africa over the years. She also briefed the delegation on the strategic SA-China Multilateral Relations aimed at developing and strengthening their cooperation with a view to advancing world peace and development, facilitating the establishment of a fair and equitable new international and economic order, and promoting negotiated settlement of conflicts and disputes.
2.3 Meeting with the Ministry of Justice officials
The briefing by the Chinese Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Liu Zheny, shed some light on the work of the Ministry of Justice in China and the possible avenues for co-operation between South Africa and China with regard to matters of mutual interest. The China Justice Ministry is also responsible for the administration of the country’s prison system and the Judiciary. The delegation also shed light on its oversight mandate over the executive and the entities that account to it. The Portfolio Committee felt that the interaction with the Chinese Justice Ministry was very useful in light of the fact that the country was in the process of embarking on several reforms, both in the field of policing and the administration of justice in general. Various pieces of legislation would be passed in order to complement these process hence a platform for the sharing of information and ideas between the two countries was critical. One of the areas, which the delegation felt South Africa could benefit immensely from through cooperation with the Chinese Government, was in the field of forensic investigation of crimes, transnational crimes and improving on the strengthening of bilateral treaties to make it easy to extradite wanted fugitives of justice from both countries.
2.4 Meeting with the Supreme People’s Court Officials
The delegation interacted with officials from the Supreme People’s Court, led by its Vice President, Justice Li Shaoping. The delegation felt it was critical to engage with the judiciary at the highest level in order to have a view of how its work was complemented by the Police. The South African delegation remarked that although in South Africa the Police and the Judiciary belong to different departments, their cooperation and close working relationship was important for successful prosecution of criminals. There was a very strong cooperation and coordination from these two bodies. Justice Shaoping explained to the delegation of the various reforms that have taken place in the Chinese Judiciary over the past few years, which were significant to the administration of justice in the country.
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides that the People’s Courts are the judicial organs of state, with the Supreme People’s Court at the peak, and various other local people’s courts at different levels. The country also has the special People’s Courts, which include among others the military courts. These courts adjudicate matters from civil, criminal and administrative suits in accordance with the laws of the country. The people’s court at a higher level supervises the judicial work of the People’s Courts at the next lower level. In litigious activities, the people’s courts adopt the systems of public trial, collegiate panel, challenge, people’s assessors, defence, and judgement of the second instance as final arbiter.
The Supreme People’s Court, as the highest judicial organ in the country, is responsible for adjudicating various cases that have material effects nationwide or that are subject to its adjudication according to law. It is also responsible for formulating judicial interpretations, supervising and guiding the judicial work of local people’s courts at different levels. The court has 367 judges, who adjudicate over 20 000 cases every year. A total 2.3 million cases were adjudicated by the courts across the whole of China, most of which were adjudicated by the lower level courts. The Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court welcomed the partnership and cooperation between South Africa and China, stressing that this would have a positive impact in the administration of justice for both countries.
Various platforms present such as judicial summit and the Judicial Cooperation Forum between the two countries, as well as other strategic partnership would ensure a swift prosecution of trans-national crimes. The Chinese judiciary has undergone radical reforms in order to ensure fairness, transparency and trust from the public. Some of the measures implemented to achieve this goal included the opening up of judicial proceedings and records for the public to scrutinise.
The delegation was also briefed about how the police in China play an important complementary role to the judiciary, in particular with the dispensing of justice with regard to certain minor offences such as traffic violations. In such cases, the law empowers the police to deal with such disputes without referring them to the courts for adjudication. The delegation further learnt that the NPC had passed a law in 2015, which will give the Police even broader powers and much more active role in policing domestic violence incidents, including the administration of protection orders issued by the courts. There are mechanisms in place to ensure that the police do not abuse powers granted to them in terms of the law and harsh penalties are imposed where such incidents occur.
2.5 Meeting with the Standing Committee of the NPC
The meeting took place at the Chinese People’s Congress. The Vice Chairperson of the NPC, Mr Li Jianguo welcomed the delegation and expressed his appreciation for the delegation’s visit. He assured the delegation of the NPC’s commitment to strengthening and deepening the bilateral relations between the two countries, not only at the level of Executive, but also between the NPC and the Parliament of South Africa. The NPC viewed the BRICS membership by the two countries, the Forum of China-Africa Co-operation and various many other platforms as presenting an opportunity for strengthening the further deepening of ties by the two countries. The NPC leadership briefed the South African delegation about their work, highlighting the process of election of members, the role of the citizenry in this process including, the mandate which the public representatives carry on towards those who elect them to office.
As the highest organ of state power, the NPC has powers to legislate, oversee the operations of the government, the power to elect major officers of state and most importantly the power to amend the constitution and to oversee its enforcement. They explained that over the years, the NPC has passed various pieces of legislation which relate to policing, in particular laws dealing with cyber-crime. The NPC, in working closely with the Ministry of Public Security, meant that China was on course to ensuring a smooth implementation of all laws that affect the work of the police. The delegation welcomed the opportunity to meet with the NPC, and shared with them their oversight role and mandate as mandated by the South African Constitution. The meeting was the first of its kind where the two arms of legislating bodies were beginning to have bilateral engagements. Both the delegation and the NPC felt there was a need for a continued exchange of visits such as the one undertaken by the Portfolio Committee on Police.
2.6 Discussions with the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the NPC
The Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee, with its Chairperson, Ms Ma Wen, exercises oversight over among other departments the Ministry of Public Security. They briefed the delegation on their role, oversight mandate and other functions. One of the major highlights of the work of this Committee was the passing of laws aimed at combating and prevention of cyber-crime and various other internet crimes. The Police and other organs of state were responsible for the implementation of those laws and account directly to the Committee. The delegation was briefed about the cyber security law that was passed in 2016, and various training programmes for the police and other law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with cyber-crime. It was reported that a total of over 5 300 cases related to cyber-crime had been dealt with since the legislation was enacted.
The delegation was also briefed that at the core of police training in the China was emphasis on discipline. There are very high standards set for Chinese police to observe and adhere to in carrying their duties. Over the years, the NPC Committee had approved the budget for the Public Security Ministry, which played a major role in some of the reforms in policing ranging from training and the results were impressive. The delegation also shared with the Committee the South African Police Service training system for its police officers and the Committee observed that a lot can be learnt from the Chinese approach to police training.
The delegation commended the NPC Committee and the Ministry of Public Security for their effective management of the police service in China. The delegation pointed to the professionalisation and discipline of the police service in China as a highlight of the study visit. There was a lot that the South African Police Service could learn from China when it comes to the professionalisation of the police and in particular, with the reviewing of the training curriculum of the police in order to ensure that it responds to the needs of the country. The delegation and the NPC Committee exchanged information during the course of discussions, including the processes involved in the appointment of senior police officers including the Commissioner of Police, the criteria for the recruitment of police officers and measures to ensure strict discipline and professional police. The NPC Committee stressed the importance of the buy-in from the public and the support from the Chinese Communist Party in mobilising citizens to support the work of the police.
2.7 Visit to the People’s Public Security University of China (PPSUC)
The president of the PPSUC, Mr Cao Shiquan briefed the delegation extensively about the University. Situated in Beijing, the facility has two campuses named Tuanhe and Muxidi, which together occupy over 80 hectors of land. The PPSUC provides training to over 13 000 full-time students and provides an all-rounded disciplines and multi-level education for aspirant police officers and those seeking to further their studies in the field of policing. Over the past 66 years, the institution has earned the name of “Cradle of Police Officers for the People’s Republic of China”. The Government of China has invested a total of over 134, 79 million Yuan to the facility to improve on its ability to deliver on its mandate. The training programmes offered range from undergraduate programme, second Bachelor’s programme, Master’s programme, doctoral programme and various exchange programme for overseas students.
The delegation was further briefed that there were stringent requirements before joining the police service in China, one of which was a university entrance examination pass being a critical entry requirement. Other various assessment measures ranging from physical wellness, mental and psychological conditions of recruits were important factors in the selection process to enrol in their four-year training to be a qualified, fit and proper police officer. The officials also briefed the delegation that after the initial 4-year training, officers then have a choice to decide whether they want to specialise in any field or area of interest. The police academy has a wide range of areas of specialisation, courses which police officers can choose to follow in pursuit of their careers.
Continued training and refresher courses are provided on an ongoing basis, with emphasis on professionalism and discipline. The delegation further received a detailed breakdown of the components and various modules that form part of the training curriculum at all levels, starting from basic bachelor’s degree right up to post-doctoral level. There are also courses that are specifically designed for senior police officers in order to enable them to effectively execute their managerial and leadership responsibilities. Of significant importance to the police training system of the People’s Republic of china was the continuous feedback, which is a critical component of the curriculum as it enables the training institution to get the real impact of the training on the ground. Through this process, the commanders on the ground are able to assess, at a practical level how trainees respond to the training given and be able to give feedback back to the University, with a view of improving where there is a need to do so.
The delegation welcomed the opportunity to get an inside view of the PPSUC, including the important work it does in as far as police training is concerned. The delegation further hoped that with the existing various bilateral channels between the two countries, vast opportunities exist for the two countries to collaborate in many areas which the South African Police Service is still grappling to deal with, particularly in areas such as counter-terrorism and trans-national crimes. The delegation welcomed the offer by the Chinese authorities to train and share ideas with the South African Police Service members and other policing scholars through the bilateral exchange programme.
3 Shanghai Meetings: 13 – 14 October 2018
3.1 Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress (SMPC)
The leader of the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress Mr Xu Zezhou welcomed the delegation. He briefed the delegation on the history of the relations between the People’s Republic of China and South Africa since the official diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1998. He said cooperation between the two countries continues to grow and that political, economic and cultural exchanges between Shanghai in particular and South Africa were at all-time high. With South Africa hosting the BRICS Summit in 2018, the Chinese Government was looking forward to further deepening the relations between the two countries.
3.2 Discussions with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress (SMPC)
The delegation held bilateral discussions with the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the SMPC, led by its Chairperson, Ms Shi Qiu Qin. The SMPC Committee explained to the delegation their role and functions, particularly their legislative and supervisory role over the judiciary and the courts. They also briefed on their oversight role over the local police, Traffic Police including the Prosecuting Authority. The delegation was briefed on several recent legislative initiatives and regulations that had been developed in order to ensure law and order in the city. Once the laws are passed, the local police are responsible for ensuring that citizens obey those laws and regulations. The SMPC Committee retains an oversight role and with powers to effect necessary amendments where challenges exist in the implementation by the police. The SMPC Committee further alluded the processes that are followed before a decision to make any law or regulation is arrived at. This involved an extensive research on the impact the law will have and the practicality of enforcing such laws or regulations.
There was a strong emphasis on the importance of developing and keeping healthy partnerships between the police and the public. Strict penalties are applied where the police abuse their powers in the course of enforcing laws and regulations of the city. The delegation was appraised of various measures and innovative regulations that had been effected to address the traffic congestion challenges that come with any rapidly growing and populous city such as Shanghai. Regarding performance evaluations, the SMPC told the delegation that it had a performance evaluation system in place to ensure all functionaries perform in accordance with set expectations and that any deviations from expected conduct is often met with decisive consequence management. The public at large also serves as an additional check and balance for reporting wayward behaviour from officials entrusted with public power, including police and judges. The delegation further learnt of the role played by the media in alerting and educating the public about new laws and regulations that the SMPC brings.
3.3 The Operational Command Centre
Mr Chen Zhen, the Chief of the Command Centre briefed the delegation that although the city has a population of over 24 million people, it can swell to about 31 million people, making Shanghai rank as one of the most populous cities in the world. By contrast, the police personnel for the entire city is approximately 50 000 in numbers. As a result, the city invested heavily on the use of advanced modern technology to supplement the disproportionate numbers of police officers vis-à-vis the population.
The Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau has a 24-hour Command Centre, with high-tech CCTV camera system which monitors almost the entire city of Shanghai. Housed in the command centre are all the law enforcement components responsible for public security and safety. These range from traffic services, local police, fire-fighting units and other agencies. The entire city has over 31 000 sophisticated CCTV camera network positioned strategically across the city. The Command Centre is the nerve centre of the city. Incidents are reported and swiftly channelled to a relevant department, located within the command centre or elsewhere in the city for action.
Owing to the Command Centre, the City has seen a significant decrease in crime. Members from various units are equipped with ongoing regular training in order to adapt to the demands of a dynamic cosmopolitan city. The City has embarked on strategic partnerships with various consulates to better deal with transnational crimes, and extended an invitation to the SAPS to form a strategic partnership and share of ideas on policing. The delegation was intrigued by the use of technology as a force-multiplier in policing in the city. The delegation mentioned that the Portfolio Committee on Police had for a long time recommended to the SAPS to consider investing heavily in smart policing, which at the centre of it is heavy reliance on technology.
The officials told the delegation that there was clear evidence that the use of technology at the Command Centre had become a major deterrent of crime in the city. It had become easy to prevent, detect and prosecute criminal behaviour, which had seen a significant reduction of serious and violent crimes, including negligent and reckless driving.
4 Findings and observations
The delegation made the following findings and observations regarding the Study visit to the People’s Republic of China;
4.1 There is a strong collaboration between the Ministry of Justice and the Public Security Ministry under which the Chinese Police Service reside.
4.2 There is strong emphasis on openness and transparency of the legal system, which impacts positively in community having faith in the legal system of the country.
4.3 The delegation observed an overwhelming community involvement and partnership with the Police in the fight against crime.
4.4 There is a strong emphasis on professionalism, accountability and consequence management in the work of the police.
4.5 The South African Police Service should utilise the opportunity presented by their Chinese counterparts to engage in training exchange programmes in various aspects of training.
4.6 The delegation noted the strides which the Chinese Government has undergone in the professionalisation of the police service through a combination of training, welfare and political party discipline.
4.7 The delegation noted the results of reliance on usage of technology by the Chinese authorities as a central pillar of policing and prosecution of crime.
4.8 The quasi-judicial powers given to the police to adjudicate certain less serious offences meant a reduction in backlogs from the courts.
5 Recommendations by the Portfolio Committee on Police
5.1 The Committee recommends that the South African Parliament and the MPC should continue to interact and share ideas on policing matters, in particular its two Committees that do oversight over the police.
5.2 The SAPS should utilise the opportunities that exist to learn from their Chinese counterparts the best practices through exchange programmes that have been proposed by the PPSUC.
5.3 The SAPS should appoint a permanent representative at the South African embassy in China for police liaison.
5.4 The SAPS should fast-track technology implementation as a force-multiplier to fighting crime in the country.
5.5 The SAPS should embark on a benchmarking study with regard to the Chinese recruitment model and training methodology.
5.6 The Committee wishes to express a word of gratitude to the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Cape Town, Mr Kang Yong for his efforts in making the visit possible.
Report to be considered.
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