28 November 2013

Decoding China’s New “National Security Commission”

Joel Wuthnow investigates China’s new National Security Commission (国家安全委员会) with his typical diligence, context, and insight.

Joel Wuthnow, “Decoding China’s New ‘National Security Commission’,” CNA China Studies (November 2013), CPP-2013-U-006465-Final.

Executive summary

On November 12, 2013, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced the creation of a new “National Security Commission.” Although few details were offered, PRC official sources and commentary by senior PRC security experts provide insight into its purpose and expected achievements. These include:

  • Resolving security policy coordination problems, including reducing “stove-piping” in China’s bureaucratic system.
  • Steering policy at a high level. This includes discussion about whether foreign NSCs might be a useful model in the Chinese context.
  • Addressing a wide array of domestic and international security challenges, ranging from terrorism to the U.S. rebalance to Asia.

Overall, there were high expectations that China’s new “NSC” would be able to confront these challenges. Nevertheless, a number of key analytic issues remain, including those related to the body’s leadership, links to other institutions, authority, and scope of responsibilities. Further monitoring and analysis of these issues is necessary.