A kindergarten teacher in Xiangdu District of Xingtai, Hebei Province, explains the concept of national security to students on April 15, China's National Security Education Day (XINHUA)
'We must think of danger in times of safety and always get prepared." This ancient political wisdom has become the consensus in China. In the decade since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) took place in 2012, China has made strides in enhancing national security.
For many Chinese, the concept of national security used to be a vague political narrative far removed from daily life. But, national security is essential for the political, social and economic development of any country. It's the cornerstone of a country's peace and prosperity.
A holistic approach
According to the 2015 National Security Law, "national security" refers to a status in which the country's sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, welfare of the people, sustainable economic and social development, as well as other major state interests, do not suffer internal or external threats.
While presiding over the first meeting of the National Security Commission of the CPC Central Committee in April 2014, President Xi Jinping emphasized the need to pursue a holistic approach to national security.
Xi said this approach requires a focus on both internal and external challenges. Internally, it is essential for promoting development, continuing reform, maintaining stability, and creating a safe environment. Externally, it should promote international peace, seek cooperation and mutual benefit, and strive to bring harmony to the world. For the sake of our global community with a shared future, we should all work toward our goal of satisfying the world's security needs in a way that is beneficial to all. We will continue to improve our national security system, strengthen our national security capacity, and defend our sovereignty, security and national interest as it concerns our development needs.
Since COVID-19 emerged, for example, the approach has guided China in the fight against the pandemic. Driven by its understanding of non-traditional security threats, such as biosecurity threats, the Chinese Government has stuck to a people-centered approach, ensuring the safety and health of Chinese citizens and contributing to the protection of people in other parts of the world.
The United States enacted the world's first special national security law in 1947, continuously strengthening its legislative work in related fields and gradually establishing a complete legal system in the following decades. China's first National Security Law was only promulgated in 1993, with limited contents and no amendments for over 20 years.
Though a late starter, China is accelerating its progress in national security legislation. More than 20 laws directly related to national security have been formulated or revised since 2012, including laws on counterespionage, anti-terrorism, cybersecurity, biosecurity and nuclear safety.
The new National Security Law adopted in 2015 stipulates the tasks and institutional measures for safeguarding national security in political, economic, military, territorial and other fields. "China has put in place a legal Great Wall to safeguard national security by instituting new laws as well as revisions to existing ones in this regard over the past 10 years," Tong Weidong, an official with the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, told a press conference on April 25.
In addition, the 2020 Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region marks an important milestone in the practice of One Country, Two Systems, a basic state policy the Chinese Government has adopted to realize the peaceful reunification of the country. The law provides a legal basis to punish activities endangering national security, playing a significant role in restoring peace and order in the region.
Visitors at the Fifth National Security Education Exhibition held by the government of Macao Special Administrative Region on May 15 (XINHUA)
Known as the political plague of the 21st century, terrorism poses a huge threat to world peace and development.
China's anti-terrorism situation was once severe. Infiltrated by international terrorist forces and instigated by domestic separatist and religious extremist forces, a riot in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 5, 2009, left 197 people dead. A terrorist attack in the region's Shanshan County on June 26, 2013 left 24 people dead. On March 1, 2014, a serious violent terrorist incident occurred in Kunming Railway Station, Yunnan Province, killing 29 people and injuring more than 130. The Chinese people had begun to feel that terrorism was hitting very close to home.
"Resolute and decisive measures must be taken, and high pressure must be maintained to crack down on violent terrorists who have been swollen with arrogance," President Xi said in 2014. He pointed out that the fight against terrorism is a matter of national security, concerns the vital interests of the people, and relates to the overall situation of reform, development and stability.
Under the Central Government's leadership, public security organs have moved counterterrorism undertakings into a more prominent position, cracking down on all forms of terrorist crimes. On July 14, 2021, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) held a press conference to provide more information about the country's counterterrorism work. According to Liu Yunfeng, Director of the MPS' Counterterrorism Bureau, since the launch of the campaign to clamp down on terrorist activities in 2014, over 1,900 violent terrorist organizations had been eliminated, more than 14,000 people involved had been arrested, and more than 2,000 explosive devices had been seized.
While resolutely combating domestic terrorist forces, China also actively supports counterterrorism cooperation among the international community. The country has ratified and acceded to 12 international counterterrorism conventions and fulfills its related obligations.
As of December 2021, the number of Chinese Internet users had reached 1.032 billion, and the digital economy is becoming an ever more important engine driving China's economic growth.
In roughly two decades, China's online industry has developed at supersonic speed, leading the issue of cybersecurity to become an increasingly hot topic of social debate over the past 10 years. On the one hand, the country continues to improve the construction and protection of its critical information infrastructure. This particular infrastructure is the nerve center of economic and social operations, involving finance, energy, electricity, communications and transportation. Once the infrastructure is damaged or attacked, it may lead to traffic interruption, financial disorder, power paralysis and other serious problems.
On the other hand, as the national security field closest to the daily lives of citizens nationwide, the government is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of people in the digital sphere and has made sustained efforts in data security management and personal information protection by, for example, tightening the rules on mobile phone applications' collection and use of personal information, and cracking down on telecom fraud. Its "cyberspace is not beyond the scope of justice" promise has been delivered, effectively guaranteeing the security of netizens' personal information.
China is also a staunch defender of global cybersecurity. It upholds that all countries should work together to contain the abuse of information technology, oppose cybersurveillance and cyberattacks and reject the arms race in cyberspace.
All in all, the Chinese Government has been working hard to build a real sense of security among its citizens.
(Print Edition Title: A Giant Leap)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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