Xi Jinping tightens security grip ahead of third term

Communist Party steps up ‘political training’ of police forces to ensure full loyalty to the President

Updated - July 26, 2022 12:36 pm IST

Published - July 25, 2022 10:19 pm IST - Beijing

China’s President Xi Jinping waving at the crowd after a ceremony to inaugurate Hong Kong’s new leader and government on July 1.

China’s President Xi Jinping waving at the crowd after a ceremony to inaugurate Hong Kong’s new leader and government on July 1. | Photo Credit: AFP

China’s internal security forces have stepped up ideological training to ensure full loyalty to President Xi Jinping as he prepares to begin a third-term later this year, top security officials said on Monday.

Officers of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the powerful internal security apparatus that includes all police, made a point to pledge their loyalty to Mr. Xi in a rare interaction with journalists, part of an on-going campaign by every ministry to underline their achievements after 10 years at the helm of Mr. Xi, who will begin his third-term as Party General Secretary following a once-in-five-year Congress expected in October.

Observers in Beijing describe the MPS as one of two key levers of hard power for Mr. Xi to ensure his continued control over the Party, the other being the armed forces, which he heads as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Not long after taking over in 2012, Mr. Xi overhauled the MPS and purged entirely the deep network of former internal security czar Zhou Yongkang.

Sun Maoli, part of the MPS Party Committee, told reporters that “defending political security is a priority”.

“Public security authorities at all levels made the in-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought as their primary political task,” added Wu Deqing, who heads personnel training for the MPS and its estimated more than 2 million police force.

Mr. Wu said following a three-year campaign launched in 2019, the MPS held an extraordinary 75,000 political study sessions involving trainees all over the country. The aim was to improve both practical skills and “improve political calibre” he said.  

To underline how Mr. Xi’s two terms in office had improved the domestic security situation, Mr. Sun noted that China had seen no terror attacks in the past five years while “people’s sense of security had improved from 87.25% in 2012 to 98.62% in 2021”. He did not say how the MPS arrived at those precise numbers.

He said attacks on schools and hospitals – intermittent knife attacks targeting children and medical personnel had emerged as a particular pattern of violence – were also down since 2012.

Only this month, five people, including four children, were injured by an attacker at a prominent Shanghai hospital, where a man had held children and staff hostage before stabbing them. Media outlet Caixin reported this month that from 2009 to 2018, there were reports of 295 attacks on medical staff, with 24 deaths and 362 people injured.

Ahead of this year’s congress, authorities have also tightened management of cyberspace. Under an ongoing “clean net” campaign since 2018, more than 385,000 people were arrested, the MPS said on Monday, for a range of cybercrimes, which include everything from cyber frauds and pornography to what is deemed seditious against the state.

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