Globally, issues pertaining to security matters have been among the most contested affairs since the world started transforming drastically to industrialization. International policymakers and advisors have always argued that the current world might not continue with its economic and social development if issues concerning international security remain unaddressed. Within the contemporary world, major forums conducted in almost every state or nation always discuss security affairs in almost each of their sittings. Security remains the most important human factor that determines the overall economic development of the world as well as a single state or nations. Issues pertaining to security have arguably been the most modern challenges facing the entire world including both the developed and the developing nations. In the context of developed nations, security problems have been marring development in world largest economies including China, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom among others. Extremists, terrorists and insurgents are constantly causing tension globally. This study provides an analysis exploring security threats facing china.
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Background to the study
China currently ranks among the world most developed economies and the trend may proceed extensively if the prevailing drawbacks and uncertainties hampering economical and political progress recede. Security matters in China have continuously been the most tantalizing problems across the entire China with policy makers and government securities facing a great challenge in providing a safe environment to the most populated nation. China’s population currently stands at approximately 1.3 billion people in the latest census. Researchers and scientists have continuously posited that China’s security remains in jeopardy despite its advanced interactions and constant co-operation with the international communities. According to Medeiros (20), security threats facing China are diverse and constantly increasing. However, according to sources, China has remained vigil over the issue of national security over the last one decade, by governing the activities of People’s Liberation Army. Gertz (8) postulates that international insurgents and extremists have always put China in the spotlight with current research revealing that its interaction with America and the wrangles resulting from political polarization are the most probable factors eliciting security tensions.
The current security issues facing China are not new, they began a way back some decades ago when China faced national security crisis that involved internal conflicts. Chinese have long engaged in civil war since the Kuomintang (KMT) regime where the civilians through the Communist Party of China fought against political oppressions exercised by the government (KMT) between the year 1927 and 1950. Despite great efforts by successive governments after the KMT to improve the democratic process in China, much remains anticipated in the current China especially to issues surrounding its internal and external security.
In the present day China, which its economic deportment is mesmerizing several nations globally and attracting several international investors into its main city Beijing each successive decades, still remains affected by internal and international politics, consequently putting the nation’s security at stake. Ratner asserts, “Beijing is undoubtedly amassing the means to exert influence in international politics, but regardless of its strategic intentions today, its rapidly evolving threaten environment will play a decisive role in determining how China brings these resources to bear” (29).
Perhaps none of the countries in the entire globe possesses an immense military structure reminiscent of that in China with an estimated populace of approximately 2.3 million security officials. Based on the report of Chinese Defense White Papers, China’s democracy seems to be shaky with several issues pertaining to governance having numerous loop whorls. In common, sense and reality, the numbers of security and military in which China has invested in seems to have no significance to the common civilian as the national security has constantly remained at risk. With much of its power manifested in the political realm, China seems to be concerned most in protecting and defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the context of international picturesque. According to report documented by Shambaugh (3), out of the 2.3 million military forces operating and providing security to the Chinese population, approximately 1.6 million soldiers are in the ground forces with interest based on protecting national autonomy with about 600,000 reserve force demobilized in ground forces.
China’s international behavior seems to be intimidating with a great percentage of the national security manifested in protecting its boundaries. China possesses the Peoples Army Police (PAP) force of roughly one million and tens of millions of nationwide militia. According to Shambaugh (4), approximately half of the available ground forces operations remain heavily concentrated in northeast and north, while over 400,000 operation in three-militia regions converse to Taiwan.
Craig argues that current threats, “while never precisely defined by the influential elite, are considered to transcend national boundaries, go beyond the military sphere, are unpredictable and/or unexpected, have both internal and external elements and ramifications” (21). The present Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) and the incumbent government policies of dominating economic growth and noninterference are also introducing a fresh position of potential security threats to China. Investment in every country remains successful if the prevailing conditions prove conducive. China’s sovereignty in political and economic powers seems to be putting the country’s national security at stake.
Beijing seems to be overwhelmingly interested in economic stance and regional stability as matters pertaining to security are becoming more threatening. Countries affiliated with development ideas with Beijing have continuously enjoyed the substantial material assistance and have constantly used the UN Security Council and Chinese current international politics to commence with their activities. The awe-inspiring and attractive economic situation existing in China and especially Beijing is contemporarily availing different potential threats including technological threats. The growing technology and the augmenting China’s potential in developing sophisticated techno how equipment and its related business seem to be providing unique challenges to the national security. According to Reveron (5), extremists, terrorist and even Chinese contenders are currently developing new ways of obtaining crucial government information through technologically improved techniques. According to Reveron (10), cyberspace attacks are looming the national security of China and its neighbors with individuals and companies harnessing cyberspace and vibrant social space that involves communal interaction intertwined with human daily life are becoming security threats to the entire China.
The advent of contemporary China in the last one millennium has continuously received challenges including diverse security matters that are constantly growing in each subsequent year. China’s national security seems to be strongly developing interest in protecting the national sovereignty territorial integrity seeking to prevent foreign interference in what Beijing has considered internal affairs. The augmenting China’s international behavior and the need to provide environment conduciveness to investment opportunities for general economic growth seems to be exposing China to wider security threats (Medeiros 20).
Beijing’s permissive approach towards non-democratic ideologies and its great focus on domestic economic growth remain potential sources of drawbacks including the phantom of international terrorism and trajectories to the formation of anti-government groups. The growing potential for investments to thrive in more sophisticated technologies are becoming national threats with cyberspace attacks expected to increase in successive years. Connected with the international economy, expanding global trade and the rapid diffusion of advanced technology, China’s security may continuously remain at stake in subsequent regimes.
Major security threats to China
The global situation with China ranking amongst the greatest economies of the contemporary world is undergoing complex and profound changes. For the past few decades, the world seems to be progressing towards irreversible economic globalization and advanced political polarization coupled with advanced social growth. China is currently in crossroads with several nations across the world ostensibly depending on the economic diversification in China for their economic growth. Balancing the issue of national security, safeguarding boundaries and national sovereignty seems to be a challenging issue in China. China is among the countries in the world who have suffered international and internal security challenges in the past one decade. According to Ratner, “in a January 2002 report, the Information Office of the State Council estimated that, in the preceding decade, China had suffered over 200 terrorist incidents in Xinjiang, resulting in the deaths of 162 people” (31). Security matters concerning Chinese national welfare remain undermined. This study will try to examine the immediate security threats and possible future long-term security threats to China.
Immediate security threats
Contemporarily, as China struggles to impress the world and its friends by providing substantial support to enhance national development and corporate investment, several security threats remain underestimated. More complex, diverse and dynamic security challenges are currently confronting China, which possesses several territories and territorial seas. China lies within the Asia-Pacific zone where several security issues have continuously hampered peace initiatives and economic development. One of the most recent threats to Chinese national security is the mind seizing anti-government separatist groups and forces that have constantly tormented the situation of human safety in China. “Given Chinese interests both in preventing external support to the separatist movements in Chinese Central Asia and in ensuring access to the energy reserves of the trans-Caucasus” (Swayne and Tellis 131) China remains exposed to severe threats. Anti-government separatist, terrorists and natural catastrophes coupled with diverse complicated weather habits have never seized from posing threats to Chinese national security in each successive regime. They also provoked civil wars in the 1920s and 1950s.
Anti-government separatist groups and forces
The present day China is struggling to avert security matters pertaining to separatist groups across the entire Asia-Pacific zone and in the interior China. In the past one decade, several separatist forces have emerged in China posing potential threats to Chinese national security. According to Ramakant (143), the Chinese militia is apt with the task of safeguarding national security, interests and sovereignty by protecting the looming separatists groups including Taiwanese independence forces like Taiwan independence and the ones originating from East Turkish dependence. Craig affirms, “The separatist activities of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces increasingly have become the biggest immediate threat to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability” (25). Separatist groups from Taiwan and other neighboring nations have constantly given Chinese hard moment with the need to protect the national autonomy across Asia-Pacific gaining momentum each consecutive calendar day. This aspect calls for constant reforms and huge expenditure in Chinese military.
Anti-government groups and forces in China have arguably become security threats including strong and independent religious groups who keep on contesting on democracy against the government. Local conflicts and regional flashpoints have become recurrent in Chinese prevailing regime and have augmented in recent decades with several cases of ethnic differences and religious disputes leading to numerous internal unrests. Religious groups and ethnic discords have become more evident in the present day china expressing their grievances and condemning the lack of religious freedom in China (Warner 10). Separatist groups especially the pro-autonomous Muslim groups from Turkey and other countries are persistently causing security problems to the Western parts of China. Ratner affirms, “The most immediate are separatist forces, within the Muslim Uighur population in western China, which seek to establish an East Turkestan state” (30). Anti-government separatist groups are consistently rising with different matters pertaining to security remaining at stake. Beijing has always supported the tyrannical governments in the Islamic world, making the prevailing security constancy worse.
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Threats from international terrorism
The contemporary China, which seems to be more concentrating with the international politics and forgetting internal affairs, is at risk of facing more security problems elicited by international terrorism. According to Ramakant, “world, economic recovery remains fragile and imbalanced…security threats posed by such global challenges as terrorism, economic insecurity, climate change, and nuclear proliferation, insecurity of information, natural disasters, public health concerns, and transnational crime are on the rise” (144). International terrorism has become the greatest global security problem not only for the Chinese nation but also for the entire world, cutting across developed and developing nations. Perhaps the most challenging issue in averting terrorism across China and other developed states remains their political stand against the Muslim separatist groups, the extremists and the potential terrorist forces (Warner 7). Chinese approach to international politics as constantly welcomed by several subsequent regimes seems to the most crucial issue that has raised reactions from international terrorists and provoked them to launch attacks in Beijing.
As the global economic recovery since the economic crunches of the past one decade remains fragile imbalance across the world, terrorism in China is currently hampering this recovery. China has consistently assumed the threatening non-traditional threats including terrorism with there activities increasing in each calendar day. By conducting joint counter-terrorism military exercises, carrying out joint patrols and inspections and other military activities with the UN and the U.S. peacekeeping units seems to be putting China’s security at stake.
China’s activities in extraction of natural resources are also among the contemporary issues subjecting China to international terrorism activities. The present China is investing extensively in natural resource businesses including oil, gas and bauxite with politically unstable nations including those in Africa and some within Asian continent. With combined forces from strong religious and separatists extremists groups in China, including dangerous al-Qaeda and al-Zawahiri have been calling for the predicament of facing Uighurs separatist group. The two groups have stated that they will attack Chinese workers and businesses across northeast Africa.
National catastrophes or disasters
Perhaps none of the world’s countries has suffered the menaces of natural catastrophes and disasters like the present day China. In the recent decades, cases of China witnessing natural disasters have grown spontaneously including earth tremors, tsunamis and even drought that inhibit national overall economic progress. China in the current days has suffered several human and property loses due to the augmenting cases of occurrence of natural disasters with estimated cases of 300 million deaths resulting from such incidences (Craig 117). Natural disasters are unswervingly affecting China’s financial security with billions of money lost each consecutive year following torments from natural catastrophes. Between January and August of 2006, losses resulting from natural disasters had totaled to approximately 16.25 billion, with 1699 civilians killed, 415 went missing, 5 million homes destroyed and at least 32 million hectares of farmland damaged. With this insight in mind, natural catastrophes have the potential of creating numerous security issues including financial instability, terrorism and insurgence antagonism and even the most unprecedented food security matters in China.
Possible future security threats
Despite efforts in averting securing threats and reinforcing policies that have successfully enlightened and improved the security department in China, including extensive training and restricting the Chinese military and the police sector much remains anticipated as new security threats are constantly emerging. It is true that several efforts have improved the military and police, but the current and future of the Chinese national security remains shaky and unsteady with several advancements accompanying and supporting the execution of crime activities in China (Reveron 9). Given its extensive investment and interest in economic power across the globe, the challenges pertaining to the national security of China may not seize causing troubles in the future China. Swayne and Tellis postulate, “As a result of both Beijing’s ambiguity and its own ignorance about its future security environment, in the long term, as well as simple systemic uncertainty, have given rise to a variety of regional counter responses” (142). Some of the future security threats in the near future may include:
Persistent drug trafficking & Arms trafficking
China has continuously become a business hub for extremist and insurgent to undertake illegal activities that mostly likely will result to troubled internal security. China ranks among the top ten countries associated with drug trafficking globally with initiatives created to avert drug activities remaining futile. Drug trafficking has become one of the greatest global menaces that cost countries economic development and social reputation. Drug trafficking has long associated with criminal activities across the globe including robbery, terrorism, transnational crime and other human security issues. According to Ramakant, China’s security department has long been struggling in “prevention and crackdown on illegal and criminal acts in border and coastal areas, such as illegal border crossing, drug trafficking and smuggling” (142). The business activities associated with weaponry trafficking seems to be the future problem of China’s security. The rapid growth of China’s economy that attracts urbanization and immigration activities along its boundaries makes the government unable to control the increasing illegal businesses activities.
Terrorism and extremist activities
China is continuously interacting and supporting international aid activities, and increasingly developing negative attitude towards extremists and terrorist. There economic and political differences as well as their positive connections with the United States seems to be further putting China and the Asia-Pacific regions at stake of future extremists activities. With the growing drug smuggling and arms trafficking activities across the interior China and its neighboring environs, China remains at risk of suffering from terrorism attacks in subsequent political regimes (Gertz 3). Intelligence experts have posited that the national security may remain at great risk as the government continuously oppresses revolutionary activities in China and supporting the international relief activities. Ratner posits, “China’s overseas interests remain threatened by the potential for political instability, state failure, or international interference in several of its most valued partners” (32). China’s continuous investment in precious natural resources and its trade agreements with weak political foundations, uncertain economic futures and unreliable legal frameworks puts China at future security challenges.
Unrelenting weather and natural disasters
Weather and natural disaster have been and may be the prevailing challenges to the China’s national security. Natural catastrophes have posed severe Chinese national security with the ability of scientists and meteorologists being unable to provide real predictions on the exact situation on the weather forecasts. The prevailing circumstances aggravated by natural catastrophes are worsening each consecutive day, each successive year. As stated, efforts to avert natural disasters have remained feeble, as most of the happenings within the natural environment have been capricious. According to recent investigations by some Chinese meteorologists, major river valleys providing water for Chinese nationalist especially the farmers will possibly decline by a margin of 30% as estimated in 2040 (Craig 117). This move will probably result to drought, which is normally a national or even international disaster, which leads to poor agricultural productivity and famine. Food security is paramount for the economic growth and the entire development of China.
Cyberspace and technological insecurity
The most ominous and exponentially growing security matter in the modern China is the issue of cyberspace security and technological challenges. The rapidly growing technological advancement is also a challenge to China as well as the entire world. According to Reveron, “the link between national security and the internet has been developing since the Clinton administration in the 1990s, yet there are significant differences in traditional domains such as airspace that makes protecting cyberspace difficult” (6). The government of China has undertaken very diminutive measures in controlling cyberspace with the internet constantly relating to war activities, consequently targeting Chinese militaries. Important government information has been subject to hacking, piracy and other internet related crimes subsequently leading to internal and external security risks. If the government does not provide stringent means to avert cyberspace issues, the growing technology in China is likely to provide significant future challenges to national security despite its economic and social imperativeness. Cyberspace crime has little or no seriously stated prevailing charges in the present China.
Possible solution to address the menace
With the diverse security challenges, much has already been in several discussions on the possible solutions to improve security. Despite the issues projecting from Chinese global reputation, China must remain vigilant to its security matters. One of the most important things to consider when undertaking the militia activities remains to be the border security. Despite several criticisms, protecting Chinese boarders remains the priority to avoid further intrusion by extremists, international terrorists and insurgents. After making sure that, the security with the borders has improved, cooperating with international communities and assisting in improving the political stability of its trade partners across the globe is essential. Finally, reinforcing strict policies and regulations in controlling illegal businesses including drug and arms tracking, cyberspace criminality among others will help reduce security threats in China. Improvising democratic and religious affairs should be another important factor to consider as cases of ethnic and spiritual differences augment. Democratic political approaches and joint forces in militia activities with neighboring countries might aid in averting insecurity in the present day China.
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