13th November 2013
CCP Sets up National Security Council – HK In Deep Trouble
The third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee concluded yesterday (12 November). The first report on the plenum was that China will set up its National Security Council (NSC). NSC, to be led by Xi Jinping (President of China), will be in charge of foreign affairs, military affairs, intelligence, and all affairs related to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Some think that having NSC to be in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, means that China Communist Party will increase its interference in Hong Kong affairs and the freedoms of Hong Kong people will be further eroded.
Before the plenum was held, China had been saying that it is a “major historical event”. After four days of meeting in a heavily guarded venue, the Plenum finally concluded yesterday afternoon. Xinhua News published an English article at 5:47pm yesterday, not about economic reform, but the establishment of National Security Council. Shortly after, the Chinese article was released, “China will establish a state security committee, improving systems and strategies to ensure national security”
The establishment of NSC being the first announcement made by the plenum surprised many as the theme of the plenum is economic reform. Both official announcement and media reports did not reveal the formulation and personnel of the Council. A source said that this Council was a plan dated back when Jiang Zemin was in power, but this plan was not in forced during Jiang’s rule, only the Central Committee’s National Security Leading Small Group was founded – the members of the group is the same as those in Central Foreign Affairs Work Leading Group.
The source also said Xi Jinping will chair the NSC. Li Yuanchao (Vice President and member of Politburo) and Meng Jianzhu (Secretary of Central Committee’s Politics & Law Commission and member of Politburo) will be the deputies, whilst Fu Zhenghua (Vice-Minister, Ministry of Public Security) will be the secretary. The source also said that Xi wants to appoint Fu to replace the Minister of Police Guo Shengkun and transfer Guo to the Politics & Law Commission as secretary.
NSC will be composed of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, PLA General Staff Headquarter, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Commerce, Publicity Department, International Department, Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office, Liaison Office, Taiwan Affairs Office, Overseas Chinese Office, etc. In other words, head of each of these officers will become a committee member of the NSC. The key reason for setting up the NSC is the international and internal conflicts China faces, including the dispute in East and South China sea, East Turkestan (or Xinjiang), Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan issues.
Ruan Zongze, Vice President at China Institute of International Studies, said that establishing NSC will increase Chinese government’s effectiveness in decision making and execution of policies when it comes to conflicts similar to the above.
Willy Lam Wo-Lap, a Hong Kong public affairs commentator, thinks that the formation of NSC is a sign that Xi Jinping is grasping more authority, and having NSC to oversee Hong Kong and Macau affairs shows that in Xi’s view, Hong Kong and Macau affairs could rock China’s national security, which is definitely a bad news to Hong Kong. “The Communist Party is convinced that intelligence units from the US and the Western world want to use Hong Kong to subvert China. Therefore, in CCP’s eyes, all sorts of democratic movements and protests, including Occupy Central are conspiracies that can threaten China’s national security. Going forward, Peking will surely use national security as a reason to interfere with Hong Kong affairs even more. In another words, Peking will further restrict Hong Kong’s freedoms and liberty.”
Lee Cheuk Yan, Chairman of Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, Professor Chan Kin Man, a convener of Occupy Central, as well as other pan-democrats are shocked to hear about China’s plan to set up NSC. They think that China will use national security as an excuse to further interfere with Hong Kong internal affairs and suppress the oppositions. The greatest worry is that Article 23 will be implemented which will lead to white terror. Chan warned that the people of Hong Kong should prepare themselves that Peking will adopt extreme measures that Hong Kong people “can never accept” to suppress the dissents.
Li Datong, a famous politics commentator in China, analysed that the reason for establishing NSC is to strengthen China’s monitoring effort and protect the Communist Party’s authoritarian. The NSC will not only monitor terrorists organisations but also individuals and groups that criticise or oppose the Communist Party.