In A Fortnight

Publication: China Brief Volume: 7 Issue: 1


Beijing is increasingly worried that the large number of “mass incidents”—some 86,000 in 2005—may destabilize the country and threaten its ability to govern. In addition to the deployment of 80% of its police force to local districts in 2006, the Ministry of Public Security announced on January 5 that “district police heads responsible for ‘mass incidents’—many violent protests and riots—provoked by the inappropriate law enforcement methods” would be dismissed (Xinhua, January 5). In the circular, the Ministry of Public Security stated that the police chiefs would also face dismissal if they were to collude with local gangs or condone the torture of detainees. In addition, to further clamp down on corruption, police officers are now required to report any purchases of cars and houses to their superiors. These efforts by the Ministry of Public Security to bolster its control over the localities coincided with the central government’s decision to strengthen the oversight of its high-level officials. According to Professor Lin Zhe, an anticorruption expert at the Central Party School, in 2007, the central government is likely to impose additional supervision on the decision-making abilities of officials as well as restrict the business activities of their relatives (Wen Wei Po, January 7).


A commentary in Xinhua, China’s official news agency, voiced concern over Tokyo’s decision to upgrade the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) to full ministry status on January 9 (Xinhua, January 9). This move, the commentator asserts, is part of Japan’s “power bid” and an attempt to become a regional military power. As evidence of Tokyo’s desires, he cites Japan’s willingness to provide minor logistical support for the U.S. campaign in Iraq, which laid the groundwork for Japan to develop a military capable of using “unrestrained power to conduct global operations.” Furthermore, the upgrade to ministry status will allow for even greater defense expenditures, as the ministry will now be able to directly request funding from the parliament. An unnamed analyst in Zhongguo Tongxun She also criticized what he viewed as Japan’s move toward “big military power” status (Zhongguo Tongxun She, January 9). Such a move reflects Japan’s desires to strengthen its military, the analyst claims, and should be viewed with much concern by the “people of various countries in Asia, which were once invaded and plundered by the Japanese militarists.” The commentator in Xinhua arrives at a similar conclusion: “People have every reason to doubt whether Japan is honoring its commitment to develop peacefully and to acknowledge its history.”