What Will China’s National Security Commission Actually Do?

The four functions of China's top national security body.

GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images
GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images
GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images

On May 6, China published its first national security blue book. The book outlined problems Beijing sees itself facing in internal security -- including Western nations cultural hegemony threatening China's socialist values, terrorism, and the "export" of Western democracy threatening Chinese ideology, among others. Perhaps more importantly, it outlines the role of China's National Security Commission. Announced in November, helmed by China's President Xi Jinping and influenced by the United States' National Security Council, little is known about what it will do or how it will operate.

Here are the Commission's four functions, according to a web article about the blue book in the Communist party mouthpiece newspaper The People's Daily, edited and condensed from clarity.

Planning and carrying out strategies for national security. In the past, since China didn't have an official national security strategy, the military strategy was part of the national security strategy. But as the foreign and domestic security situation becomes more complex, military strategies are becoming increasingly insufficient for China's overall security needs -- which demand macro-level planning and guidance. Thus, the Commission's first and foremost responsibility is to plan and carry out urgently needed national security strategies.

On May 6, China published its first national security blue book. The book outlined problems Beijing sees itself facing in internal security — including Western nations cultural hegemony threatening China’s socialist values, terrorism, and the "export" of Western democracy threatening Chinese ideology, among others. Perhaps more importantly, it outlines the role of China’s National Security Commission. Announced in November, helmed by China’s President Xi Jinping and influenced by the United States’ National Security Council, little is known about what it will do or how it will operate.

Here are the Commission’s four functions, according to a web article about the blue book in the Communist party mouthpiece newspaper The People’s Daily, edited and condensed from clarity.

Planning and carrying out strategies for national security. In the past, since China didn’t have an official national security strategy, the military strategy was part of the national security strategy. But as the foreign and domestic security situation becomes more complex, military strategies are becoming increasingly insufficient for China’s overall security needs — which demand macro-level planning and guidance. Thus, the Commission’s first and foremost responsibility is to plan and carry out urgently needed national security strategies.

Pushing forward the construction of China’s national security legal system. An important task of the NSC is to improve China’s national security legal system by introducing laws in the realms of military, politics, foreign policy, economics, culture, technology, information, environment, intelligence, among others.

Planning general and specific national security policies. These include policies that crack down on the "three forces" of terrorism, extremism, and separatism; policies related to sovereignty, territorial disputes, and maritime interests; and policies related to information and cyber security, space security, maritime security, and the security of neighboring regions.

Studying and solving the major issues in national security. Previously, different organs had separate responsibilities when responding to major national security incidents. But in recent years, all major incidents, such as the terror attacks the "three forces" launched in the regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, have been multi-faceted. They all have profound connections to international actors, so relying on only a few powerful domestic organs is not enough. Intelligence and foreign affairs organs should cooperate closely. There will be more incidents like these in the future.

Yiqin Fu is a regular contributor to FP's Tea Leaf Nation.

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