China’s new security superagency to further centralise power in Xi’s hands

China’s new security superagency to further centralise power in Xi’s hands: The security panel set up by the Communist Party earlier this month bears a similar name to two very different foreign agencies: the US National Security Council (NSC) and the now defunct KGB, whose Russian name translates to the Committee for State Security.

The American panel serves as a venue for the president to meet with his top national-security and foreign-relations advisers. The KGB was a vast security and espionage apparatus focused as much on domestic threats as foreign ones.

Whether President Xi Jinping’s “national security committee” will resemble either of these agencies is anyone’s guess. The document announcing its creation – the resolution of the Central Committee’s third plenum – contains only one three-sentence paragraph describing the committee’s purpose.

Analysts generally see the new committee as a move by Xi to consolidate power and bring the People’s Liberation Army under tighter control of the party leadership. But some warn the entity could represent step backwards if it functions informally, outside the defined framework of the government structure.

“The key is whether real power in the NSC is institutionalised or is exercised informally,” said John Lee, a regional security expert with the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies. “If institutionalised, this is an advancement. If the latter, then it could just become even more of a confusing decision-making structure.”

Lee said he believed the committee might act as a co-ordinating body between the Central Military Commission and other organs, such as the 25-member Politburo. Its creation represented an understanding that the country had outgrown the institutions set up under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, he said.