Keeping the nation secure from the top down Published: 2014-1-26 16:59:00

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Xi Jinping to lead national security commission
President Xi Jinping will head China's new national security commission, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided on Friday.

Security committee fires warning: FM
China's decision to set up a State Security Committee is aimed at improving systems and strategies to ensure national security, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Wednesday.

"No doubt, if China sets up a State Security Committee, terrorists will be nervous, separatists will be nervous, and extremists will be nervous. In general, all those forces who tend to threaten or sabotage China's national security will feel nervous," said Qin at a regular press briefing.

China's media:

Global Times:
Planned security committee underscores new safety view

The importance and urgency of maintaining national security is of genuine interest to China as a rising power. Protecting national security is a core task for the whole of Chinese society and it is the platform from which reform and development will flow. 

Both the US and Russia have established their own national security committees. China is not as powerful as the US yet but China's long-term and current tasks are enormous, which also shows that China is facing a more challenging security situation than the US.

Security body vital to modern challenges
Security is like air - people tend to ignore it when they have it; but they will lose their lives without it. The concept of greater national security should be consolidated among Chinese people.

The Beijing Times: 
“Setting up the National Security Committee (NSC) is to prevent crises before they emerge”, said Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism study center at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told the Beijing Times.

“The status and influence of China has become increasingly important in international relations. The possibility of an unknown emergency is rising, so setting up a national-level institution to respond to crisis is highly necessary”, Li noted.

Li told the Beijing Times that the establishment of the NSC is aimed at improving systems and strategies to ensure national security.

“Currently, the power of protecting national security has been dispersed among a variety of departments, both political and military, and there is a lack of a top-level management institution to cope with an unexpected crisis”, Li said.

The coming National Security Committee will change China’s current decision-making model. Currently, decisions are made at the top, but the details are designed by the lower departments. In future, the decision will be made and also designed by the top, Guo Changlin, an analyst of Riskon International, noted in an article he wrote for Beijing-based news portal

The National Security Committee is both the top-level decision-making and designing mechanism. This is the most important change to the decision-making mechanism and process since the founding of the nation, Guo added.

The changes that can be predicted due to the new committee are that China’s decision-making process will become more institutionalized, professional and transparent. The boundaries between policymakers and executors will be clearer. China’s systems and strategies will also become more authoritative. Furthermore, China will have its first official national security strategy.

United Daily News:
The United Daily News quoted Wang Jianmin, a research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), who pointed out that the National Security Committee is a comprehensive institution.  It will probably focus on  curbing extremism, terrorism and separatism, which means that its main purpose is safeguarding stability and therefore doesn’t exclude the possibility of fighting against 'Taiwan independence’.

South China Morning Post:
Beijing to set up powerful national security body in face of mounting threats

Jin Canrong, professor and deputy dean of Renmin University's school of international studies, said the new national security committee appeared to be inspired by the US body. The NSC includes representatives from a wide spectrum of government agencies, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretaries of state, defence, treasury and homeland security. The council reports directly to the president.

"This ensures that the diplomatic and security policies of the US will be more consistent with its long-term strategy and better co-ordinated," Jin said. "The structure of China's national security committee will be similar to that of the US NSC."

Yue Gang, a Beijing-based military affairs commentator, said the existing mechanism was insufficient to handle heightened external risks stemming from territorial disputes and cybersecurity, especially after the spying allegations of former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

"Some of the external security tasks are now handled by diplomatic agencies and their strength does not match the tasks' requirements," Yue said. "Some issues have to be handled with the participation of other parties, such as the military."

Foreign media:

The Wall Street Journal:

China deepens Xi's powers with new security plan
The need for the national-security body has grown as China grapples with security-related challenges both globally and at home. After more than a decade of building up its military and expanding its diplomatic clout, Beijing is now facing a backlash from neighbors alarmed by its muscular approach to maritime disputes in Asia.

Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies said the new body would help to combat extremism, terrorism and separatism, according to an interview posted on the website of the People's Daily newspaper.

China creates Security Committee with warning to terrorists
A panel modeled on the US National Security Council, which brings together top officials from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and other actors to streamline decision making, may help China better respond to fast-moving crises.

“There’s been talk of establishing an NSC-like body for coordinating national security policy for over a decade,” Taylor Fravel, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies China’s ties with its neighbors, said in an e-mail. “That said, this appears in the section on domestic affairs and could very well be a domestically oriented body, though it could also have some international role.”

China to revamp security in face of threats at home, abroad

Cheng Li, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and an expert on Chinese politics, said the idea was based on the National Security Council in the United States and would increase coordination between the various wings of China's security bureaucracy, split now between the police, military, intelligence and diplomatic services.

"The official line is to better coordinate the very different domains: the intelligence, military, foreign policy, public security and also national defense. This gives tremendous power to the presidency," Cheng said.

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