Private policing and community self-governance in China’s COVID-19 lockdown

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Much is made about the Chinese government’s power to impose coercive measures during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, it is rarely acknowledged that the police service strength in China is quite weak (approximately 143 per 100,000 people) compared to the global average standard (351 police officers per 100,000 population). As a result, tasks such as movement control are largely fulfilled by private security guards. These guards are mainly employed by estate management companies. They have contractual duties to protect residents in private urban communities (xiao qu). Fulfilling these duties might involve imposing restrictions on residents. It is usually the Residents’ Committees that approve these restrictions on behalf of all community members. This self-governing model was praised by academics, but it was challenged during the COVID-19 lockdown. The first predicament arises when the collective interest of the community clashed with the individual rights of residents. There were numerous cases where security guards stopped residents (usually medical professionals) from returning to their homes for the fear that they might bring in the virus. It is debatable whether contractual duty and collective consent entitled the guards to such actions. Moreover, Chinese local governments frequently used private security guards as quasi-police forces in the monitoring of suspicious cases. It seems that the private security sector can be easily co-opted by the state control system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020
EventEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference (online) 2020 -
Duration: 10 Sept 202011 Sept 2020


ConferenceEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference (online) 2020
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Private policing and community self-governance in China’s COVID-19 lockdown'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this