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State security body on way

Updated: 2013-11-13 08:18
By Zhu Zhe in Beijing and Fu Jing in Brussels ( China Daily)

The Communist Party of China announced on Tuesday that a State security committee will be established, with experts saying the move comes amid threats from home and abroad.

The decision is included in a communique issued after a major Party plenum in Beijing.

Although little information about the committee is disclosed in the document, experts believe the body will form the highest level of security coordination in China.

The communique calls for the introduction of systems to effectively prevent and end social disputes and to improve public security.

Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism center at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said it is unlikely that the committee will remove power from existing State departments.

"Instead, it will probably be an organization that has the power to coordinate government organs at the highest level to respond to a major emergency and incidents that pose threats to national security, such as border conflicts and major terrorist attacks," he said.

Experts said the nation is facing increased social conflict due to a widening wealth gap and corruption. Threats from terrorism have also spread to the political heart of the country from remote border areas.

On Nov 6, one person was killed and eight injured when homemade bombs containing metal pellets and nails were set off in front of a Party office building in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province.

A 41-year-old suspect who was arrested said he was not satisfied with society and intended to seek revenge through extreme action.

On Oct 28, two people were killed and 40 injured when three attackers from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region drove a jeep into a crowd in Tian'anmen Square in the heart of Beijing.

Police said it was a terrorist attack, after flags related to religious extremism were found in the car.

Li said China has established a national anti-terrorism team under the Ministry of Public Security, which aims to fully mobilize government resources and take every effort to combat terrorism. This team could respond to terror attacks, but it couldn't eliminate the source of terrorism.

"China desperately needs an organization like the committee to develop long-term national strategies to tackle the problem from its roots," he said.

Hu Jianmiao, a law professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said maintaining security is part of the Party's efforts to build a "legal China" - a new concept in Tuesday's communique.

"It's the first time that such a term has appeared in documents adopted at similar key Party meetings, which means more stress on the rule of law," he said.

Hu said the concept covers various aspects.

"It means the judicial system should be improved, administrative powers and procedures should be better regulated by law, and the management of society should be more law-based."

The communique calls for reform of the country's judicial system to better protect the rights and interests of the people.

"To build China under the rule of law, it is imperative to build a fair, efficient and authoritative socialist judicial system," it said.

Efforts should be made to uphold the Constitution and laws, deepen reforms in administrative law enforcement and ensure independence and fairness in prosecuting bodies and courts, to improve judicial practice and protection of human rights, the communique stated.

Hu was encouraged by it being clearly stated that a function of the law is to protect human rights, describing it as "remarkable progress".

Li Yuwen, professor of Chinese Law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, was delighted that the foundations for the rule of law, which include "fairness, efficiency and authority", are embodied in the document.

"This is a big improvement and I should say, in terms of respecting the foundations of the rule of law, this is in accordance with the legal system of Western countries," she said.

Li Yuwen also said that in the document China's highest leadership has set an encouraging tone for future reform of the juridical system by mentioning an "independently and fairly performing judiciary and procuratorial system".

"This has triggered a lot of expectations toward future reform in this regard," she said.

She also said reforms should include whether China should set up a special administrative court to deal with misuse of powers in governments and how to deal with the relationship between three-tier local courts and local governments.

On administration, the communique said government functions must be transformed in a down-to-earth manner to establish a law-based and service-oriented government.

"Power should be placed under the supervision of the public," it said. "Letting power be exercised in the full light of day is the fundamental solution to confining power in a cage."

The communique also calls for the introduction of systems to fight corruption.

Contact the writer at zhuzhe@chinadaily.com.cn

Cui Jia contributed to this story.

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