Let China sleep, for when it wakes it shall shake the world – Napoleon
The Communist Party of China last year had announced the creation of a State Security Committee at the end of China’s Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Party Congress. This body will be focusing on the domestic issue than the external one for which there exists already enough institutions. This article contends that it is premature for China to announce such reforms before doing proper home work on the ground realities about the ills the Chinese society faces for a long time and on all the sides. Therefore this article tends to identify at least one factor which may be reason for the unsuccessful of this committee which has been talked about with much fanfare. What Xi Jinping must keep in mind is that state security, social stability and social governance (shehui zhili) are the preconditions for the successful operations of these reforms and any reforms must be preceded by the reforming of the minds of the local people.
The part of the title so what is included by the author by keeping in the mind the recent series of terror attacks against the Chinese civilians and personnel as if mocked by the terror elements of the China against the newly formed State Security committee. As everyone knew that China has not been comfortable with the neighbors over the settling of territorial disputes or island disputes from India to Vietnam, neither it is peace with itself. These external issues China can withstand given the different ideologies and philosophies of different countries in and around the region of China and the military might of the Chinese military. However what China cannot afford is to have such disputes and conflicts within the country as it sounds death knell to the very values such as Communism and Confucianism it stands for. It is from this point of view one has to see the China’s announcement of new state security committee headed by Chinese premier Xi Jinping himself. The Communist Party of China (CPC) on November 2013 had announced the creation of a State Security Committee at the end of China’s Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Party Congress which lasted for 7 days from November 7 to November 14, 2013. The very fact that the head of the China himself heads the committee itself tells the fact that he is not ready to believe his party members and others of the CCP in the preservation of his motherland in terms of internal order and development. This itself is enough to capture the essence of the ground reality of the Chinese internal situation. The contention of the author is that there is no harm in creating new such committee. But before doing that China should do catharsis of its internal ills.
The mail focus of this article is that before unveiling of such measures for the sake of national security no matters internal or external, the leadership of China must take into account the internal condition of China’s administration which is to some extent grave one maily owing to corruption among other evils. It is important for China to keep in mind that being aggressive and assertive alone won’t bring the real transition in China which should be accompanied by true patriotism, humane approach, good governance and statesmanship. This article looks into the weaknesses of China in the administrative level which should be cleaned in the first instance only then can the measures like new security commission will work effectively. There has been a thinking that China means dragon. This article argues that if China performs internally poorly, it may lose the position of middle kingdom.
Shortcomings of the Internal Administration: An Analysis
Here are some of the facts and analysis which the author views as a justification for the Xi’s declaration of new policies particularly the state security committee. The whole world fears about China’s rise in terms of military, economy, scientific advancement and what not. While this may be sounding up beating for the Chinese about their achievement, on the other hand this feat does not match with the ever deteriorating internal condition. This perhaps suggests to Chinese leadership that mere national interests alone cannot guide a nation to the rich destiny but also some amount of ethics and discipline which is badly the need of the hour can sustain the successes of the hitherto Chinese efforts.
One of the most serious weaknesses involves the central government’s difficulty in disciplining local government behavior. Local officials’ primary priority has been to promote themselves and their careers by pushing for high investment rates and output levels. In contrast, central officials are more concerned with excessive investment, unsold inventories, and local policies’ risking nationwide price inflation. Local behavior is difficult to control because China’s center-local relations are basically corporate in nature, not federal. The central government accomplishes its goals at the local level by operating through local government offices, not alongside them. Hence, central officials must often operate through the very local offices they are intended to investigate.
China’s another most serious problem is corruption. It is in its efforts to control corruption that the central government most clearly experiences the limitations of its corporate national system. Local corruption investigations are most frequently carried out by special ad hoc task force from either the central or provincial level. Corruption especially affects government handling of a wide range of local problems stemming from economic reforms and the need to compensate losers in the process of modernization, such as farmers whose land was requisitioned for non-farm use or citizens whose homes have been torn down for construction projects. Official compensation is often barely adequate, but even this is frequently reported diverted. Corruption also figures heavily in local governments’ frequent failure to enforce environmental regulations. Environmental degradation is one of the most serious challenges facing the government. Lucrative alliances between local business interests and officials contribute heavily to egregious incidents of pollution.
However in China it is mainly a local government phenomenon. There is little evidence that what corruption is uncovered at the national level has seriously threatened the integrity of economic policymaking. International corruption surveys by the World Bank and Transparency International rank China’s corruption as less serious than that found in countries like Indonesia, India, the Philippines or even Argentina. No doubt, that the degree of corruption though varies from one country to another, this has been standard features of other Asian economies going through the same phase in their rapid growth. However this does not mean China must be overlooking its corrupted officials and system. Therefore the best thing China can do is that before it devours China it is better to reform the rotten system for if China ignores this negative trend by saying that it does not hamper national security it is living in the fool’s paradise. One thing China has to keep in the mind is that the external prowess of China can be dwarfed by the internal maladministration and even can slow the march of China towards the attainment of the global power status a grand dream of China.
It is good that at last Xi seems to realize that enough is enough and wanted to arrest the downward march of Chinese society and polity from going into further worst. The most obvious area where state security and internal security need reform is the disciplining the errant bureaucrats and other local authorities to ensure internal stability and security rather than terrorists for it is because of these people the terrorists are born. Currently, there are at least three central offices with constituent channels with responsibility for managing internal security operations, all of which can draw on the resources of the Ministries of Public Security and State Security. They include the following:
● The Political-Legal Affairs Committee, which oversees intelligence, police, and prisons;
● The Leading Small Group for Preventing and Handling the Problem of Heretical Organizations, especially Falun Gong, executing policy through the 610 Office; and
● The Leading Small Group for Preserving Stability, executing policy through the Office of Preserving Stability.
During the summer of 2012, as Xi Jinping cruised toward his coronation, the Central Party School published a series of articles arguing strongly that “social management”—the party’s euphemism for stability, internal security, and political control—had been overly securitized, despite the cross-cutting nature of issues like terrorism. As Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated, “the variety of predictable and unpredictable risks has been increasing remarkably, and the system has not yet met the needs of safeguarding national security.”
Establishing a national security commission to strengthen the unified leadership of the state security work is an urgent need. There are many experts who congratulated the present Chinese leadership for unveiling the series of reforms. However what they have forgotten inconveniently is that before to those reforms there must be some prior discipline and good governance which are essential for its successful take off. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, this new commission “should make terrorist, extremists and separatists nervous. And all those forces which would attempt to threaten or sabotage China’s national security will indeed feel uneasy and upset. Needless to say, the commission, manifesting China’s institutional innovation rather than changes of its policy, aims to defend China’s core interests and protect its peaceful development from being disrupted. China is a stabilizer for world peace and security, and the new commission is like a performance guarantee for the stabilizer and will in turn bring benefits to the whole world”. Therefore, the new structure of China’s national security commission bodes well for all the peace-loving people throughout the world if it is handled well and efficiently by the various officials working under Xi Jinping. It is better to stop corruption because it may also be one of the causes for thriving of terrorism. The recent series of terror incidents involving the using of weapon like knives to perpetuate massacres against innocent people may suggest that some of the Chinese may be going towards Medieval Age as against the mighty dream of China in moving towards modernization era. It is worth recalling that there were two suicide bombers that killed three people and injured 79 others in an attack at a train station in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Province in 2014. On March 1, 2014, a group of men and women killed 29 people and injured another 143, slashing people with knives at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming. These terror incidents drive home the message that the terror elements inside China remain undeterred by the China’s State Security Committee. Therefore, in order to make these reforms go smoother there should be prior reforms to reform these reforms which are nothing but taking a stern action against the corrupt Chinese and disciplining them like a child who has committed an error. One thing I want to convey and urge the Chinese leadership to keep in mind is that before attempting to introduce any reforms in the society, it is always better to reform the mind of the people of that society. It is here that the Chinese must be learning from rich Indian experience from the spiritual point of view. I would like to end this article by quoting Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of Eurasia Group …that “China’s problems will be our problems too. If China can be safer, the whole world will be safer as well”.
Chennai Centre for China Studies.