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China Creates Security Body to Better Handle Domestic, Foreign 'Threats'

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China's decision to create a state security committee to oversee its vast security agencies appears to reflect a desire by Beijing to do a better job of dealing with domestic and foreign challenges.

In a Tuesday communique, the ruling Communist Party ended a four-day policy meeting by saying it will set up a state security committee for the first time in order to "perfect the national security system ... and strategy."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang elaborated on that in a Wednesday briefing, saying the committee will deal with "all forces attempting to threaten China's security" and make them "nervous." He said those forces include "terrorists," "separatists," and "extremists."

Ken Dewoskin, China research director at risk management company Deloitte, told VOA the announcement shows Beijing is "totally focussed" on improving its response to recent domestic unrest.


"It involves the far western regions of China where there is quite a lot of agitation, restlessness (and) turbulence of one sort or another. I think the government now officially acknowledges that the (deadly) incident a few weeks ago in front of (Beijing's) Tiananmen (Square) was in fact a terrorist incident, (that) it was not an accident, because they found materials in the car that indicate that the group was committed to that kind of political agenda. So yes, that (unrest) is now front and center."


In the Tiananmen incident on October 28, three minority Uighur men from western China's autonomous Xinjiang region rammed a car into an entrance of the Forbidden City and set the vehicle on fire, killing themselves and two pedestrians.

The Communist Party communique also left open the possibility that the new state security committee will try to improve the handling of foreign security issues such as maritime disputes.

China has become more assertive in the past year in challenging its neighbors' claims to islands in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Japan plans to launch its own national security council by the end of this year to deal with issues such as the East China Sea dispute. Tokyo and Beijing both claim sovereignty over uninhabited islands in the resource-rich waters.

Analyst Li Cheng of the Washington-based Brookings Institution said another reason for China's creation of the committee is a need for its various branches of government to coordinate with each other.


"Certainly you may have some different voices, different interpretations. So the establishment of such an institution can get a better perspective or (give a) more coordinated explanation. Also, military figures, such as a major general, may sometimes comment on foreign policy, but they may or may not reflect the top leadership's view. I think there is a need to have a single institution which can speak in a more authoritative way."


Li cited the recent example of Chinese President Xi Jinping saying China wants to resolve its sovereignty dispute with Taiwan rather than let it be be "passed on from generation to generation." Mr. Xi made the comment to a Taiwan official last month.

Li said China's foreign ministry and other institutions were caught off guard by Mr. Xi's remarks. China views Taiwan as a renegade province. The island has been self-ruled since splitting from China in a 1949 civil war.


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