[Editor’s note: What a strange, inverted world we live in when the supposedly dictatorial and authoritarian Chinese state has a more progressive and open policy towards how it deals with the issue of police interaction with the public than does that supposed beacon of freedom and liberty – the USA. Chinese police killed one man a few months ago and it has lead to this government initiative; US police kill people so often that no-one is able to keep track of the death toll anymore. Certainly, I think that filming the police is a good idea, although trying to do such in the USA may lead to being shot and killed. Interesting problem indeed for the supposed land of the free and one that must be solved. Ian]
In a surreal twist on efforts by U.S. law-enforcement to evade filming, high-ranking Chinese government officials rolled out new protocols Monday not only confirming citizens right to videotape police making arrests, but encouraging it as a safeguard against police abuse.
According to the state broadcaster, CCTV, the Ministry of Public Security states: “Police should accept public monitoring and get used to implementing the law in front of cameras if members of the public record the actions without hindering law enforcement.”
The decision delivers on promises made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the excessive use of force by police. Many in China were outraged by the killing last year of Lei Yang by police back in May. Yang suffered fatal injuries by plainclothes officers for allegedly soliciting sex workers in the district of Changping.
“Reforming the way the police operate forces the traditional system to improve,” said Zhang Chao, an associate professor at the Henan Police Academy.
Under the new protocols, police must carry ID on them at all times, with plainclothes officers having to present their identification when approaching civilians.
While there is no law in China explicitly forbidding citizens from filming law enforcement, individual police officers have in the past prevented people from doing so.