News / Asia

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

China's President Xi Jinping stands next to a Chinese national flag during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Nov. 13, 2013.
China's President Xi Jinping stands next to a Chinese national flag during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Nov. 13, 2013.

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."

The announcement lacked detail, prompting reporters to ask Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang for more information in a Wednesday briefing.

Qin said the new security 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."

Problems at home

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.

"[That unrest] involves the far western regions of China where there is quite a lot of agitation, restlessness [and] turbulence of one sort or another," said Dewoskin.

"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. China denounced it as a terrorist attack.

Other cases of domestic unrest include mass riots by ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in 2009 and the Tibetan autonomous region in 2008.

Overseas challenges

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.

In a report published Wednesday, the state-run China Daily newspaper quoted Chinese analyst Li Wei as saying one role of the committee will be "defending China's borders." Li is a director of the anti-terrorism center at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

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.

In the Chinese foreign ministry's Wednesday briefing, a Japanese reporter asked spokesman Qin if China is creating the security committee because Japan is doing the same.

In a testy response, Qin accused the reporter of insinuating that China views Japan as a threat on par with domestic terrorists. Qin denounced the question as a "trap."

Hong Kong media quoted analysts as saying the Chinese state security committee also is likely to deal with external threats such as cyber attacks.

The committee's membership has yet to be disclosed.

China observers say that if most of the members come from domestic security agencies, the committee is likely to focus more on combating domestic unrest. They say the committee is more likely to concentrate on foreign security issues if it is dominated by diplomatic and military officials.

Enhancing communication

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," Li said.

"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." Xi made the comment to a Taiwan official last month.

Li said China's foreign ministry and other institutions were caught off guard by 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.

In another example of suspected miscommunication in China's leadership, the Chinese military conducted a sensitive test flight of a stealth fighter jet in 2011, just hours before President Hu Jintao met visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

At the time, U.S. media quoted U.S. officials as saying President Hu appeared to have no knowledge of the test flight when Gates asked him about it. They said the test flight raised questions about how much control China's civilian leaders had over the military.

Brookings analyst Li said Hu's successor President Xi has greater personal power thanks to strong majority support in China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee. Li said the creation of the security committee reflects a further consolidation of Xi's power.

Victor Beattie contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs