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China faces increasingly severe national security challenges and stresses from outside its borders, according to a landmark historical resolution released on Tuesday which says Beijing’s capacity to deal with these tests is “insufficient”.
“In the new era, China is faced with more acute national security challenges, as evidenced by unprecedented external pressure, intertwined traditional and non-traditional security threats, and frequent ‘black swan’ and ‘grey rhino’ events,” the resolution said, referring to both unforeseen and ignored threats.
On Wednesday, a senior official from the Ministry of State Security made a rare appearance on CCTV evening news. Chu Baotang, deputy director of the publicity bureau of the ministry, told the state broadcaster that “national security has been comprehensively strengthened” since the 18th national congress, guaranteeing the prosperity and long-term stability of the party and the country.
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The 36,000-word resolution, adopted at the sixth plenum of the Central Committee last week, dedicated a section to the Communist Party’s efforts in “safeguarding national security”. It said the party would “fight to the end” with any forces that attempted to subvert the party’s leadership and China’s socialist system.
The resolution titled “Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Communist Party of the Past 100 Years” puts the status of President Xi Jinping on a par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and hails his achievements, including safeguarding national security.
The resolution admitted that compared with current needs, “China’s ability to maintain national security is insufficient, the ability to respond to various major risks is not strong, and the coordination mechanisms for maintaining national security are not sound”.
“The party has withstood and pushed back against extreme external pressure, stood up on issues such as those related to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, and territorial waters,” the resolution said.
Xi stressed that national security was a “top priority”, the resolution said, adding that he had put forward a holistic approach to national security – an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era. That ideology, which Xi introduced in 2014, covers a wide range of security issues, from politics and the military to technology, cyberspace, outer space and biosecurity.
Xi founded the party’s National Security Commission in 2013, and has chaired it since.
The resolution stated that Xi had urged all party members to enhance their “fighting spirit and capacity” and to guard against and defuse various risks.
A “centralised, high-performing, and authoritative” leadership system for national security has been improved, the resolution said, referring to the establishment of the National Security Commission under the Central Committee.
The resolution said the party must fight back when confronted with types of external encirclement, suppression, disruption and subversion.
“Constant concessions will only invite more bullying and humiliation,” it said.
The party has tried to raise public awareness about national security issues and consolidated the public line of defence. China rolled out a new anti-espionage regulation in April, allowing the national security authority to list companies and organisations susceptible to foreign infiltration and requiring them to boost security measures.
On Friday, during a conference explaining the plenum chaired by State Security Minister Chen Wenqing, the ministry said it would “discard illusions, prepare to fight” and “dare to struggle” to protect the country’s national security, echoing Xi’s comments in September that Chinese officials should “discard their illusions” about having an easy life and “dare to struggle” to protect the country’s sovereignty and security.
“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered a key phase, and risks and challenges we face are conspicuously increasing,” Xi said. “It’s unrealistic to always expect easy days and not want to struggle.”
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