China’s Ministry of State Security recently published an article saying that economic security is the foundation of national security. It said that economic threats must be dealt with to promote China’s economic recovery and “high-quality development [of the economy]. The article accused foreign critics of fabricating false narratives about China’s economy to undermine market confidence and impede growth. It vowed to crack down on illegal activities that jeopardize economic security.
Meanwhile, social media platforms like Weibo are instructing bloggers to avoid pessimistic comments about China’s economy or face severe punishment. Some users were notified that downplaying the economy has become a “red line” that risks heavy penalties if crossed. This reflects the CCP’s heightened sensitivity to dissent and its effort to control public discourse about economic issues.
The article tied economic security to the national security concepts emphasized by Xi Jinping. It blamed foreign actors for creating “discourse traps,” manufacturing false narratives about China’s economic decline. The article did not address concerns about how China’s own policies have contributed to the trend of economic decoupling between China and global economy.
By framing economic commentary as a national security issue rather than just economic analysis, the CCP is severely restricting speech within China. Self-censorship by firms like the China International Capital Corporation (CICC) and social media platforms show the chilling effect of this new policy. Some Chinese netizens have noted that, ironically, the act of banning negative comments about the economy may itself be damaging to perceptions about the Chinese economy and business environment.
Source: Voice of America, December 15, 2023