China Elevator Stories

“Did You Have To Use Guns Frequently?”

I spend time with two former police officers in Shangri-la.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


One day in the summer of 2012 I spend time at a restaurant in Shangri-la with two acquaintances. The Chinese friend I am visiting in Shangri-la has to work and has asked them to take me around town instead. They have both worked as police officers in the past. Now, they are working as personal secretaries for a government official.

I ask them about their jobs as police officers: “Did you have to use guns frequently?”
The first guy, Yu, a Chinese man in his mid-20s, replies: “I was working in the office mostly, so no.”
The second guy, Jin, who is the same age as me, says: “I’ve been working in the drug crime investigation department. There are lots of drug-related crimes in Yunnan, especially in the border regions close to Myanmar where I was stationed. We had to use our guns often.”

Seeing that I’m curious about their past jobs as police officers, Jin takes out his badge, shows it to me, and tells me: “I’m still a police officer, but I don’t work in the drug crime investigation department anymore.”

Later that day, they show me around Shangri-la’s beautiful countryside. Yu seems to be of a rather quiet nature, and nothing much shows that he has been working as a police officer in one of China’s stronghold regions for drug-related crimes in the past.

Have you ever met a Chinese police officer?