Chinese leaders have urged law enforcement officials to tighten their hold to ensure social stability as the world enters a “turbulent period” and the global pandemic causes “chaos in the West”.
At the annual meeting of the Communist Party body overseeing justice, prosecutorial and police agencies in Beijing on the weekend, the leaders said the country was facing rapidly evolving global risks due to the once-in-a-century pandemic.
“As changes to the world structure accelerate, China’s rule is in sharp contrast with the turmoil in the West,” a statement from the Central Political and Legal Work Conference said.
“At the same time ... the world has entered a period of turbulent change. Political and legal work is facing new risks and challenges.”
The statement said China should grasp the changes at home and abroad, and pursue “political and legal work” with a sense of urgency.
Addressing the meeting on behalf of President Xi Jinping, Politburo member Guo Shengkun said more efforts should be focused this year on pursuing a more systematic and law-based approach.
He also called on all police officers to take concrete action to better safeguard people’s happiness, national security, and social stability.
Guo is also the head of the party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which oversees all legal enforcement authorities, including the police force.
The conference convened just days after the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of the US President Donald Trump who were protesting against Trump’s election defeat to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The siege prompted an outburst of mockery online from Chinese media and commenters, with many comparing the events with anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
The conference also ended a week in which 1,000 police officers in Hong Kong arrested 53 opposition activists and politicians.
Hong Kong police said the arrests were for “subversion”, by trying to use strategic voting to secure a legislative majority and shut down the government. The crackdown was the largest round-up of opposition figures since controversial national security legislation was imposed on the semi-autonomous region in June.
In Beijing, the conference was told that breakthroughs had been made in the field of politics and law to reform and promote law enforcement, judicial restraint and supervisory systems.
This opened a “new chapter in advancing legislation in important areas such as national security, and public health”, it said.
The leaders said it was necessary to establish a firm “bottom-line thinking”, strengthen awareness of risks, and focus on controlling complex situations.
China’s ability to defend its political security work system had improved, deepening the implementation of the overall concept of national security and firmly grasping the key risks affecting its national political security, they added.
The attendees also pledged to step up law enforcement and justice in relation to the crackdown on monopolies and unfair competition “to equally protect the legitimate interests of market entities of all kinds”.
The tone is in line with Beijing’s recent antitrust campaigns against internet giants including Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the South China Morning Post, and Tencent Holdings.
Beijing drafted a document to crack down on monopolies in the “platform economy” in November. A month later, the central Chinese leadership named antitrust activities as one of its economic priorities for this year.
The regulators have already taken action against some of China’s biggest tech companies. In December, it fined Alibaba and Tencent-backed China Literature over unreported acquisitions, and started investigating the former for alleged monopolistic business practices such as requiring merchants to pick only one e-commerce platform as their exclusive distribution channel.
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