Xi Jinping holds the “knife” of internal security and fully grasps power

Xi Jinping has finally found what he has been missing for nearly a decade: a trusted confidante at the top of China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Wang Xiaohong’s appointment as public security minister in June marked another breakthrough in Xi’s continued consolidation of power since he was named chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission in 2012.

Over the past week, the Chinese president has exercised power over the latter to historic effect, launching unprecedented military exercises, irreversibly changed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

He is expected to retain both positions for an unprecedented third term at a party congress this year, before being reappointed as president at next year’s National Congress.

habit He and Wang have known each other since at least the mid-1990s, when the former was promoted in southeastern Fujian province, and Wang was a senior police officer in the provincial capital, Fuzhou.

Wang’s predecessors at the Ministry of Public Security, Zhao Kezhi and Guo Shengkun, are not considered close to Xi.

“When Xi Jinping became general secretary, Guo and Zhao were already senior party leaders, and their career paths had never crossed Xi Jinping’s in the past,” said Li Ling, an expert on Chinese politics and law at the University of Vienna.

Wang Xiaohong, front left at the 2018 UN Police Summit, has been Xi Jinping’s trusted comrade since the mid-1990s © Li Muzi/Xinhu/Alamy

Xi Jinping controls two of the party’s three power centers — military “gun” And the propaganda “pen” – which has remained steadfast over the years.

China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong, Xi Jinping overhauled the People’s Liberation Army during his first term.The party’s most important propaganda agency often gave flattering coverage of his activities, such as Victory recent trip to Hong Kong Kong and Xinjiang.

But Peter Mattis, an expert on Chinese security at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, said the third traditional pillar of Chinese Communist Party power, the internal security apparatus or “knife,” has been relatively “persistent.”

In the year before Wang was named China’s top police officer, at least three current or former vice ministers of public security were purged for corruption. Two of them, Fu Zhenghua and Sun Lijun, were accused of “colluding” with each other, criticizing “the party’s major policies” and “greatly inflating political ambitions”.

“That’s why [Xi’s] The rectification campaign against the political and legal institutions is very important,” Mattis said. “Development through these areas was Mao Zedong’s way of taking power. “

Lin Weili, an expert on party politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Fu and Sun were effectively accused of “trying to form an anti-Party clique, that is, an anti-Xi Jinping faction.”

“On the other hand, Wang Xiaohong is a trusted confidante. He and Xi have long since gone back,” Lin added. “Xi achieved what he wanted, which was to put a key protégé in charge of the police agency.”

Xi has also worked to install allies in the Central Political and Legal Committee, which oversees China’s police, national security and court institutions. In another measure of its importance, it enjoys a larger official budget than the military.

Although still led by Guo, 67, Xi Jinping’s protege Chen Yixin has been CPLC’s general secretary and de facto head of operations since 2018.

Chen and Xi worked closely together in Zhejiang province 20 years ago, with the future chairman serving as governor and party secretary. Xi brought Chen to Beijing in 2015 and sent him to Hubei province, the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, to help stabilize the outbreak in February 2020.

“Our party, country and people are fortunate to have Xi Jinping as the core of the party, the leader of the people and the commander-in-chief,” Chen said in a recent speech to domestic security officials.

“He has an aura of leadership, outstanding intelligence, charisma and people in his heart,” Chen added. “The more complex the situation and the more arduous the task, the more Xi Jinping is needed to be the helmsman.”

At this year’s party congress, Chen was the main candidate to succeed Guo as the chairman of the CPC Central Committee, Li said.

“Chen Yixin has been running [internal security matters] It’s been a while and there’s no sign [Xi’s] Control over the legal system and institutions is hindered,” Lee said.

“But it would be better [for Xi] If the new CPLC principal is from [his] own camp. ”

Under Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, Zhou Yongkang’s unbridled rule over the power of the Chinese Communist Party is a vivid demonstration of the power of the Chinese Communist Party.

Zhou, who supported Xi’s opponents in the 2012 election of a new leader in the party, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for alleged corruption. He remains by far the most powerful victim of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

“Zhou Yongkang has the ability to seriously threaten other party and state leaders by controlling security resources,” said Samantha Hoffman, a sinologist at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “The CPLC instrument is the foundation of stability.”

Additional reporting by Andy Lin in Hong Kong

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