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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora