China has stepped up security on its borders with India, North Korea and Myanmar as the ruling Communist Party (CPC) gears up to hold a key national congress next month during which President Xi Jinping is expected to get an endorsement for a second five-year term.
China's border police forces under the People’s Armed Police became the latest government agency to make a show of support for President Xi, saying officers would focus on the frontiers to ensure stability for the five-yearly gathering, the South China Morning Post reported.
They would also tighten monitoring of coastal areas and ramp up counterterrorism work, the police said in a statement.
"(We will) stick to the highest standards, strictest requirements and strongest measures to ensure absolute border security for the party’s 19th national congress," the statement said.
Conspicuously absent from the statement was the restive province of Xinjiang which shared borders with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan.
Reports from Xinjiang said police erected body scanners at the road check posts to prevent any violent attacks by the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
Xinjiang, the home of Uygur Muslims, is restive over the settlements of Hans.
Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst and Asian security expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the border forces were trying to promote their role as guardians against what Beijing saw as potential threats.
"Leading into the party congress, they want to seem to be successful, increasing their political strength and being proactive in dealing with these security situations," Davis said.
Zhang Baohui, a Chinese politics specialist at Lingnan University, said that although the offshore conflicts were unlikely to pose any real danger to the Congress, the police must declare their determination to stamp out risk.
"They all have to do something to show they’re doing their best for the 19th national congress," Zhang said. "It’s a way to show loyalty."
The Congress, starting on October 18, is expected to see Xi named the party’s general secretary for a second term and a dozen officials named to key positions.
Security personnel have been out in force across the country to make sure the highly-choreographed gathering is not disturbed by social unrest. But the build-up comes amid ethnic clashes in Myanmar and the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea expects more provocative acts by North Korea next month to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean communist party.
In a meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in yesterday, national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said he expected Pyongyang to act around October 10 and 18, but gave no details.
"Ties between India and China have also been tested by a border row in the Himalayas," the Post report said.
At a security drill by armed police and firefighters on Saturday, Bayanqolu, party chief of Jilin, which borders North Korea, ordered the province to strengthen "frontline border control" in the run-up to the Congress.
"(We must) firmly prevent major incidents that will harm political security and border stability," he said. "(We will) take action to show absolute loyalty, pure loyalty to the party (leadership) and general secretary Xi Jinping.”
On the China-Myanmar border, authorities in Mangshi, Yunnan province, said they would "build a steel wall" of border security.
Border personnel in Tibet also held a rally on Monday, pledging security and stability during the party congress.