The Communist Party’s decision-making Politburo has just decided who will lead the newly founded National Security Commission in China. On Jan. 24, the top three members in the Politburo Standing Committee, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and top legislator Zhang Dejiang, were announced to be heading the Commission.
This reveals two important messages, according to the former deputy editor of the Southern Weekly, Chang Ping.
Usually, a security council or commission would be an executive branch of government responsible for decisions and policy on national security, and would advise the heads of government on such matters. This Chinese commission seems to be based on the U.S. National Security Commission; however, it is headed by the Chinese president himself. Although the Party has always controlled national affairs, it did so as a ruling party. A distinction between the Party and the government has been an operating principal in the past, but apparently the current Chinese authorities have decided not to follow that tradition. This is a very important piece of information.
Secondly, what is this National Security Commission setting about to do? Officially, it is primarily responsible for international security issues, but in the communique, it is stated that the Commission’s mandates also include domestic security, including: terrorism, network security, Tibet, and Xinjiang issues.
This move clearly strengthens the top leaders’ overall power, with a priority on protecting their political positions. What worries the critics most is that the Party will intensify the pressure and repression on domestic dissidents through the Commission.