China's national intelligence authority introduces itself in high-profile manner, showing confidence in shaping the image
Published: Jan 10, 2021 10:30 PM

Photo: Screenshot of MSS's publicity video

In a rare move, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China's national intelligence and anti-espionage authority uncovered its veil of mystery on Sunday by introducing itself in a four-minute video. Such a high-profile presentation on China's first People's Police Day demonstrates that the national security authority is becoming more confident in shaping its image to fit the country's overall strength and is determined to safeguard the country's national security, observers said. 

In the four-minute video, Li Yifeng, a young actor popular with young people does the voice-over. The video also features Morse code, reflecting that MSS officers have been working in a hidden battleground with growing challenges although China is in a time of peace. In the digital era, anti-espionage work has become much more complex, for example, the infiltration of foreign forces and internet theft could lead to leaks of secret data, according to a post by Weibo account changan-j attached to the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee introducing the video.  The video was released on Sunday that was also China's first People's Police Day, paying tribute to veterans who played an important role in carrying out intelligence work in history and to the people's police force dedicated to safeguarding the rule of law. 

A Beijing-based expert on national security affairs who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Sunday that the increasing publicity shows that the MSS is going to be more confident to shape its image to fit the country's national strength and rising role in the international arena.

"We can see the CIA or the FBI of the US are very high-profile and are frequently the subject of Hollywood movies. Their images have been shaped or even over-beautified by these high-profile publicity measures," the expert said, noting that the MSS also needs to make necessary changes to let more people learn who they are and what they are fighting for. 

The MSS always keeps a low-profile with very limited public information, and it has become a highly mysterious department to the Chinese public. However, this style of carrying out duties has been changing significantly recently. 

For example, in a recent interview with the Legal Daily, a newspaper under the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, the MSS openly introduced some information to the public for the first time, including the methods of recruiting MSS officers.  

The newly released video was popular on Chinese social media on Sunday. Some Chinese netizens hailed the officers as "heroes in the shadows" as although they may not wear a uniform and have to conceal their identities, they safeguard national security and make selfless contributions. The hashtag "MSS unveils a publicity video was viewed 73 million times as of press time on Sunday. 

Allowing more people to know the MSS in this way could help it recruit more young people and it also makes law-enforcement easier and more efficient, the expert said.

China will likely encounter different risks and conflicts at present and for some time to come. Predictable and unpredictable elements that could cause danger for the country are increasing, which requires the MSS to enhance its team and strengthen team building, the MSS told the Legal Daily previously.