Security experts gauge challenges facing the nation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2003, 12:00am

Their report will outline external threats, the policies that need adopting and the country's idea of its place in the world

Specialists are preparing the first comprehensive report on national security.

It will outline the external challenges facing the nation, its development plans for policy-making and resource allocation and the country's perception of its place in the world.

The report will incorporate many principles already contained in the political report of the 16th party congress last November and the government report to the National People's Congress in March.

Security concerns such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would be emphasised, along with the more traditional focus on defence matters, analysts said.

The document is being prepared by a leading group of national security specialists drawn from the ministries of defence, foreign affairs, security and public security and think-tanks and military academies.

Revolving around the key issues of national unity, stability and sovereignty, the emphasis of the report is likely to be placed on highlighting the development of 'comprehensive national power'. The concept has been the guiding principle in China's strategic thinking for the past two decades as it gives economic growth a top priority in the pursuit of wealth and power among nations.

In a subtle shift since last year, China has shown its willingness to play a more active role in mediating in conflicts and conducting itself as a responsible major power. In the North Korean nuclear crisis it has shed its reluctance to become an active participant to defuse tension in a multilateral setting.

In recent months, some think-tank and academic experts have floated the idea that China should include pre-emptive military action in its grand strategy, but it remains to be seen if this will be spelt out in this report.

While defence is expected to form the core of the report, economic and other types of threat, such as cyberspace crimes, will also be addressed.

Analysts say that since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, China has increasingly viewed possible turmoil arising from the movements of large amounts of money worldwide as a potential risk to its national security.

The report is likely to refer to the military thoughts of former president Jiang Zemin, the subject of a study campaign launched by the PLA this summer. In the transition of the Communist Party and government leadership, Mr Jiang retained his position as chairman of the Central Military Commission and continues to influence the military modernisation programme.

He is widely believed to have set his sights on achieving unification with Taiwan as his historical mission.

Sources said the report would be watched closely for clues on Beijing's latest thinking.