Updated: Oct 18, 2022
In his report on behalf of the 19th Central Committee to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary of the Party Xi Jinping devoted seven minutes [1127 – 1134 hours on October 16th] on issues of national security and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) outlined a comprehensive security strategy with focus on enhancing safety of the people at large.
Excerpts of the report by General Secretary Xi, on security along with comments are appended as below as shared by the CPC Website and translated by Google.
Significance of National Security
Xi said that national security, “is the foundation of national rejuvenation, and social stability is the premise of national prosperity. We must unswervingly implement the overall national security concept, put the maintenance of national security throughout the entire process of Party and state work, and ensure national security and social stability”.
Important to highlight here is the efforts to link the process of the Party and state work in a unified manner to ensure national security and social stability. This has been the emphasis of Xi through his tenure for the past decade wherein party-government-military unity has been emphasized.
Xi Jinping started by stating that modernization of national security systems and capabilities is essential not only to safeguard national security but also social stability
Xi Jinping embraced the concept of comprehensive security for the country with widened scope of national security stating that the whole purpose of security was ensure safety of the people. This could be achieved through political and economic security as the foundation implying stability of the party and the economy are the core principles/ This is guaranteed by ensuring military, scientific, cultural and social security, “and the promotion of international security as the basis to coordinate external security and internal security, homeland security and national security”.
He goes on to add the importance of “Traditional security and non-traditional security, self security and common security”. Coordination and consolidation of “national security and social stability,” was important to, “build a higher level of safe China, and ensure new security with a new security pattern. development pattern”. Thus adapting to a comprehensive security model is the panacea for China for the future
Contours of Comprehensive National Security System
Going on to various arms of the national security system, secretary Xi Jinping sought improvement in the leadership, legal, strategic, policy and importantly, “ risk monitoring and early warning system, and national emergency management system.” He called to build a comprehensive, three-dimensional and efficient national security protection system.
Comprehensive security approach should ensure ideological, food, energy, industry and supply chains while, “ safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons overseas, and build a national security line of defense”.
Improving the quality of public security governance with emphasis on “safety first and focus on prevention, improve the public security system, improve the capability of disaster prevention, mitigation and relief and the handling of emergencies and emergencies, and strengthen the protection of personal information,” was emphasized under this head. By protection of social interests the aim should be to, “build a society in which everyone is responsible, responsible, and enjoyed by everyone governance community”.
People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Five minutes into his speech Xi went on to the People’s Liberation Army called for a “new situation for the modernization of national defense and the army.”
Relevant here is the fact that substantial reforms have been undertaken by the PLA as per directions of Xi Jinping since 2013 which include streamlining of the Central Military Commission, central institutions for higher direction of war and creating geographic theatres. Further refinement in these is desired essentially to increase the operational efficiency and achieve national security goals.
Xi Jinping then went on to outline the objective of building the PLA into a world class army where the Party has absolute control over the military.
Ideological reforms or loyalty was to go side by side with, “Modernization, the modernization of the military organization, the modernization of military personnel, and the modernization of weapons and equipment, improve the strategic capability of defending national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and effectively fulfill the mission and tasks of the people's army in the new era”. Attracting talent to achieve these objectives was outlined.
Importantly Xi emphasized again the loyalty of the Army to the party to, “ensure that the barrel of the gun always obeys the party's command”.
Organisational Reforms of PLA
On the organizational front he called for improvement and implementation of, “system and mechanism of the chairman responsibility system of the Military Commission,” implying possibly of greater role to be played by him in decision making as he is the chairman of the CMS. Discipline eradication of corruption were also emphasized. Given the removal of a number of senior commanders of the PLA for corruption, the campaign is expected continue, even though detractors claim that commanders who were not loyal to Xi were implicated and removed which is difficult to verify.
In the final minute or so Xi Jinping talked about the operational facets of PLA modernization to include strengthening training and preparations, “improve the people's army's ability to win, innovate military strategic guidance, develop people's war strategies and tactics, build a strong strategic deterrent force system, increase the proportion of combat forces in new areas and new qualities, and further promote actual combat military training”.
Towards this end, building of new domain forces with combat capabilities, UAV, networked information and joint command and control in the operational areas of “reconnaissance and early warning, joint strikes, battlefield support, and integrated logistics support,” a translation provided by Manoj Kewalramani at Tracking People’s Daily Substack states.
Xi said, "We will simultaneously carry out operations, boost combat preparedness, and enhance our military capabilities. We will continue integrated development of the military through mechanization, informatization, and the application of smart technologies and
work faster to modernize military theory, organizational forms, personnel, and weaponry and equipment. We will enhance the military's strategic capabilities for defending China's sovereignty, security, and development interests and see that the people's armed forces effectively fulfill their missions and tasks in the new era".
"We will study and gain a good grasp of the characteristics of informatized and intelligent warfare and the laws that govern it, provide new military strategic guidance, and develop strategies and tactics for a people's war," he added.
Technology and weapons, organization and composition of forces, training and law based governance of the military was emphasized.
A special emphasis was devoted to strategic planning with a view to, “consolidate and improve the integrated national strategic system and capabilities, strengthen the construction of national defense science, technology and industry capabilities”.
Xi also said, "We will establish a strong system of strategic deterrence, increase the proportion of new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, speed up the development of unmanned, intelligent combat capabilities, and promote coordinated development and application of the network information system".
Mobilisation, reserves, caring for retired service personal and military government civilian unity was emphasized.
On training, Xi said, "We will intensify military training under combat conditions, laying emphasis on joint training, force-on-force training, and high-tech training. We will become more adept at deploying our military forces on a regular basis and in diversified ways, and our military will remain both steadfast and flexible as it carries out its operations. This will enable us to shape our security posture, deter and manage crises and conflicts, and win local wars," and added, "We will deepen the reform of military universities and colleges, build a
strong system for training new types of military personnel, and develop new ways to manage military human resources".
On Logistics, Xi said, "We will speed up the development of modern logistics, implement major projects to develop defense-related science and technology, weaponry, and equipment, and move faster to translate scientific and technological advances into combat capabilities".
On conclusion of his Report, Xi exhorted the “The whole Party, the whole army, and the people of all ethnic groups in the country must unite closely around the Party Central Committee” and warned that, “empty talk will mislead the country”, while hard work will rejuvenate and thus unity was important.
Thereafter Premier Le Keqiang asked the delegates to adjourn to consider the report. In sum, the trajectory of modernization of the Chinese security system with emphasis on loyalty of the PLA to the Party, sustained reforms in all spheres to improve functioning and contribute to strategic as well as people’s security was emphasized.