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The Ministry of State Security cautions against negative economic outlooks casting a shadow.
The Ministry of State Security cautions against negative economic outlooks casting a shadow.

The Ministry of State Security cautions against negative economic outlooks casting a shadow.

The MSS’s recent statements cautioning against negative views on the Chinese economy have caused concern among professionals in the business, economic, and analytical fields. They worry that discussing and studying the economy may now be considered a threat to national economic security.

Frank Chen from SCMP wrote about the MSS’s efforts to influence the portrayal of China’s economic situation and the overall tone of their approach.

The ministry stated on its WeChat account that the economic sector is now a battleground for superpower competition and addressing the multitude of negative stereotypes about China’s economy has become an external obstacle.

According to the statement, discussing China’s decline is essentially an attempt to set a “narrative trap” or create a “cognitive distortion.”

The goal is to question or reject China’s socialist system and to strategically limit its growth.

Some individuals have hidden agendas and are once again creating a false narrative about a threat from China. Their goal is to disrupt the public’s confidence in the market and hinder economic progress.

In an article for Nikkei Asia, Katsuji Nakazawa examined the consequences of the growing role of China’s spy agency in regulating and potentially punishing economic discussions.

Private companies from China and foreign companies operating within the country must take into consideration recent actions from the powerful national security organizations, particularly the Ministry of State Security’s indication of potential crackdowns. This could potentially lead to legal consequences for conducting business and economic research.

Restricting economic evaluations and strong viewpoints regarding commerce could lead to companies in China becoming too fearful to take action. This would harm organizations that aim to generate profits. In order to thrive, having reliable information is crucial.

An aging Chinese scholar expresses disappointment with the present circumstances. According to the scholar, in recent decades, the People’s Liberation Army was responsible for safeguarding a secure environment for China’s “reform and opening-up” system and economic growth. However, now the focus of national security organizations has shifted to suppressing speeches that criticize China under the guise of economic security.

There has been an increase in restrictions on economic analysis and articles on the internet, such as the removal of “Ten Questions About the Private Economy” and the shutting down of economist Liu Jipeng’s social media profiles.

The CDT editors have saved a number of important and humorous reactions from online sources, including one that was censored, in response to the MSS statements. A brief satirical piece from the public WeChat account 古史夜谭 (gǔshǐ yètán), which discusses current events, was recently removed. The essay ends with a mock-praising tribute to the influential national security system.

China’s economic outlook is currently strong, but there are individuals with hidden agendas who aim to undermine this positive outlook by openly criticizing the Chinese economy. They claim that China prioritizes security over economic development, inhibits foreign investment, and suppresses private businesses. In response, the Ministry of State Security has released three consecutive statements emphasizing the importance of the economy. This is not a joke: the MSS will now prioritize cracking down on online comments that could harm China’s economy. Anyone who dares to speak negatively about China’s economy will face severe consequences, and those who make irresponsible statements regarding economic matters will also be dealt with harshly by the MSS.

We are confident that the strong involvement of the national security system will lead to positive coverage of China’s promising economic future. This will result in sustained economic growth, an increase in foreign trade and investment, and a strong job market. In summary, with the support of the national security system, China’s economy will reach new levels of success.

A recent article on the WeChat public account 笑面风雨 (xiàomiàn fēngyǔ) also explores this topic and mentions that the last time China’s security agencies were involved in economic matters was during the 2015 Shanghai stock market crash. (At the time, online discussions regarding the crash were heavily monitored and there were several leaked censorship orders.) The article points out that the arrests following the 2015 crash were carried out by the Ministry of Public Security, which oversees China’s domestic security.

China’s influential security system has once again demonstrated its expertise in the economic realm.

The last time was eight years ago, during the June 2015 stock market crash.

Following the turmoil in the stock market, numerous officials from the Ministry of Public Security were sent to the China Securities Regulatory Commission to conduct a thorough investigation of those causing trouble. Across the country, the police and public security system were mobilized to address the financial conflict sparked by what are known as “malicious international short-sellers.”

[…] The fact that, even now, the [Shanghai Composite Index] never falls below the floor of 3000 points, is largely thanks to the hard work of the public security apparatus all those years ago.

It is not surprising that many of us immediately think of the Ministry of Public Security arresting individuals when reminiscing about the “classic scenes” of the 2015 Shanghai stock market crash.