Blackwater poor example for Chinese security companies going global

By Luo Ying Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-12 20:23:01

Amid a whirlwind of Chinese enterprises heading overseas, some Chinese security companies have accelerated their movement in the international market and have succeeded in some ways.

This is not only an inevitable trend for them to deal with intensive domestic competition and diversify their development methods, but also meets the need to protect overseas Chinese enterprises and safeguard national interests.

However, companies in the security service sector need to seriously improve themselves in order to really go global.

Some security companies simply equal "going global" to "being able to provide armed bodyguards." They take the US private military company Blackwater as an example, rushing to follow suit.

In their perception, as long as they are approved to carry a gun in foreign countries, the obstacles in their way will be smoothed away. 

Many were impressed with Blackwater's resounding success that its revenue from federal government contracts in a decade grew from less than $100,000 to almost $600 million in 2006.

However, the company's extraordinary rise would not have been possible without the catalysis of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor without the adventurous US culture and gun culture, as well as the US' global hegemony. It's better to explore an overseas development model for China's own security services rather than to envy, or blindly imitate, the success of Blackwater.

Nowadays, Chinese security services cover a whole range of operations such as patrolling, bodyguarding, security checks and risk consultancy.

We could explore the huge potential of retired military officers, offering professional training and technical expertise to local security enterprises in developing and underdeveloped countries, which are often crowded with Chinese enterprises.

We could also bring into play the low-cost advantage, equipping overseas Chinese enterprises with low-cost but high-quality homemade security installations.

After three decades of development, China now has 3,997 security companies with over 4.5 million security guards.

The security industry is labor-intensive. It doesn't lack personnel, but is void of high-end talent, especially people who have not only mastered foreign languages, but also are proficient in international affairs, security tactics, security management and planning. An enormous gap remains between Chinese security companies and their Western counterparts in these aspects.

China on the national level has built up a supportive service system for overseas investment, which plays an important role in facilitating development of Chinese enterprises in the global market.

But in the security service sector, the policy support is not enough to meet the demand of expansion in the international market. We have to offer security companies more backing in terms of policy, taxation and loans.

The Provisions on the Safety Management of Overseas Chinese-funded Enterprises, Institutions and Personnel, issued in August 2010, emphasized that Chinese enterprises abroad must be equipped with necessary installations for security and can employ local security guards or armed police if necessary.

It's a pity that the document didn't mention how to let domestic security companies play their due role.

In line with common international practice, utilizing domestic security companies to protect overseas enterprises and Chinese nationals is the best way forward. 

The author is chairman of the Beijing Shield Consulting Service Co.,Ltd.

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