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    The Southernmost Branch of China’s Northeastern Police

    Harbin authorities set up an outpost on the other side of the country to serve migratory residents in Sanya.

    The police force of Harbin, a city in northeastern China, is setting up a branch more than 4,700 kilometers away, in the southern beach resort city of Sanya, Beijing Youth Daily reported Thursday.

    A photo of a building with the sign proclaiming “Harbin Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Police Station in Sanya” went viral online on Wednesday, with many netizens amused that the police force had established a branch so far from home.

    “Doesn’t Sanya have police?” one net user asked on microblog platform Weibo. “Sanya really is being colonized by northerners,” another joked.

    Yet the outpost expects to serve plenty of citizens in need, as the tropical island province of Hainan, where Sanya is located, has become a popular retirement destination for seniors from the north — especially from northeastern cities where the winters are freezing and frequently polluted. The police branch will enable Harbin citizens living in Sanya to access household registration, exit and entry administration, and vehicle registration — all services tied to one’s hometown.

    “The initiative [aims] to bring convenience to citizens for handling their affairs,” an employee at the Harbin Municipal Police Station told Beijing Youth Daily. “For many Harbin citizens residing in Sanya, it is too much trouble for them to return to Harbin for their affairs.”

    The city of Harbin did not confirm when the outpost would open, but cooperation between the provincial police departments stretches back more than a year. From Jan. 1, 2017, the Heilongjiang Provincial Public Security Bureau — the jurisdiction that Harbin falls under — has had a liaison office and entry and exit administration in Sanya to serve around 300,000 residents in the city who hold Heilongjiang hukou, or household registration. Most of these migrants do not qualify for remote paperwork applications, as one must prove six months’ continuous residency to apply — and many “migratory birds” only move to the southern city for the winter months. The Harbin police station will offer even more services than the provincial office.

    Seventy-one-year-old Zuo Wenxue, who has lived between Harbin and Sanya since 2006, told Sixth Tone that he welcomes the new police outpost. “It will make things like going abroad easier,” he said. In previous dealings with the Sanya police, he complained, Zuo found it hard to understand their accents — even when they weren’t speaking unfamiliar local dialects.

    “I believe that after the police from Harbin come, work efficiency will be ideal,” Zuo said, and suggested that they could cooperate in areas beyond paperwork.

    Two years ago, Zuo recalled, he helped a victim in a robbery case call the police but found the local officers unresponsive. “Besides communication difficulties, I found their conduct different from our police in Harbin, who are upright in both appearance and discipline,” he said. “If Harbin police handled issues together with Sanya police, I think the efficiency would double.”

    Additional reporting: Wu Huiyuan; editor: Qian Jinghua.

    (Header image: Police officers line up at a police station in Beijing, Sept. 1, 2014. IC)