Postcard from... Beijing


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The Independent Online


It’s one of the most striking features in the north-eastern Chinese city of Dalian: a team of mounted policewomen patrolling People’s Square downtown, reputedly hired from modelling schools for their beauty and riding steeds from the Hong Kong Jockey Club. But in the latest threat to the purged former Communist leader Bo Xilai’s legacy, the city of Dalian may disband the mounted policewomen unit he set up to improve the city’s image.

Debate over the fate of the mounted police force – China’s first – arose after a former Dalian police officer said running the nearly 20-year-old force was a “waste of taxpayers’ money”.

Retired cop Zhao Ming, 64, told the China Daily that the policewomen were all about public relations and the good image of the city, not about maintaining public order. “It is unbecoming for policemen. A performance role should be undertaken.”

The policewomen were first deployed when the disgraced Bo was mayor of the city, but since his purge last year and the gradual dismantling of his political legacy, there is a move away from the time when he ruled supreme in Dalian. And there are concerns the police are spend too much money – up to 7,000 yuan (£760) a month – to maintain the policewomen.