China’s Communist Party ruler Xi Jinping, meeting with high-level officials on Tuesday, celebrated advances to his totalitarian regime’s ambitions to keep political opponents silenced in the name of “national security.”
The South China Morning Post, quoting a brief note from the state news agency Xinhua, reports that Xi presided over the “secretive” National Security Commission, whose mention in Xinhua this week was only the second in state media in history. The commission turned four years old this week.
“In the past four years, the National Security Commission … has solved many problems that had long remained unsolved, and achieved tasks that had long remained undone,” the Post quotes Xi as saying. “Work on national security has been strengthened. [The Commission] has firmly grabbed the upper hand in maintaining national security.”
The Hong Kong newspaper notes that, in addition to the vague but optimistic quotes from Xi, “there was no footage of the meeting, nor was it made known who attended apart from Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and head of the legislature, Li Zhanshu.”
Sunday was “National Security Awareness Day” in China, according to the state-run China Daily, which celebrated with a slideshow of Xi Jinping quotes like “political ecology is similar to natural ecology because both can be polluted easily, and rehabilitation comes at a high cost.” The Chinese government also published a “book of extracts” with quotes from Xi Jinping highlighting what Xinhua calls his “holistic approach to national security.”
Xi has invested heavily in creating a sprawling government infrastructure to combat the “polluting” of China’s political ecology with dissident, pro-democratic opinions, from building “mind-transformation centers” for the indoctrination of people suspected to disagree with the government to the establishment of a “social credit system.”
China has also heavily targeted religion, taking measures to diminish the influence of Islam in its western border regions and branding Christianity a “national security threat” last year. Xi has personally rallied the country around the idea of “Sinicizing” (making Chinese) all religions, which in practice requires religions to submit to the rule of the Communist Party and promote communism in their services.
Beijing announced in March that its social credit system – which grants citizens points based on how pleased the Communist Party is with their contributions to society – would soon go live, judging everything from how law-abiding a citizen is, whether they pay fines for violating local ordinances, to whether they support the Party. “Spreading false information,” defined as information the Communist Party deems false, can trigger a fall in a person’s social credit score. Too low a score and a citizen could be banned from using public transportation and flights, rendering them unable to travel.
This Monday, China announced the debut of a website run by the Ministry of National Security to help citizens alert the government to any person they consider a threat. The regime advises people to document at the website any evidence against individuals who appear to support an “overthrow of the socialist system” or “incite ethnic separatism” – likely referring to individuals opposing communist rule in Xinjiang or Tibet. While the announcement made no explicit note about whether being reported to the site would lower a person’s social credit score, any “criminal” activity could do so and limit a person’s movement within the borders of his or her own country.