Chinese Leader Xi Appoints Loyal Subordinate to Head Bodyguard Force

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
November 15, 2019 Updated: November 15, 2019

Wang Xiaohong, a Chinese official who has previously worked under Chinese leader Xi Jinping when the latter was rising through the ranks in Fujian Province, was recently appointed director of the Special Security Bureau, a security force in charge of protecting senior Communist Party officials and visiting foreign state leaders.

Some China analysts say the personnel change is a sign that Xi may soon reorganize China’s security agencies.

Unusual Appointment

China’s state-run Beijing News reported on Nov. 4 that Wang Xiaohong, deputy minister of public security (MPS), was appointed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary and director of the Special Security Bureau. The MPS is in charge of China’s police.

The Special Security Bureau (SSB), a department newly set up within the MPS this January, is mainly tasked with providing bodyguards to top officials with “vice” positions, such as the state vice chair, a position currently held by Wang Qishan; 14 vice chairs within the standing committee that leads China’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC); four vice premiers; 23 vice chairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the CCP; the chief justice within China’s highest court; the prosecutor-general of the national prosecutor’s office; and visiting foreign state leaders and senior officials.

This bureau also provides security to several national-level government agencies, such as the cabinet-like State Council, all ministries, and the anti-corruption watchdog, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

In contrast, the Central Security Bureau handles security for state-level officials who hold the primary positions, such as Xi, who is the Party general secretary and state chairman; the chair of the NPC standing committee; the premier; and all members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Party’s top decision-making body. This agency is controlled by the Central Military Commission, the Party’s highest organ for overseeing the military.

Wang’s new position at the SSB is an unusual appointment because typically, the director of each department with the MPS is a “ju” (meaning department) level official, whereas Wang is a “bu” (meaning minister) level official—which is a grade higher than “ju,” according to Chinese media Caixin. Party officials are classified into different ranks, which afford them different privileges. 

The news attracted Chinese netizens’ attention.

Xi and Wang

Meanwhile, Wang is broadly believed to have strong loyalty to Xi, as he worked under him for over a decade when both were in Fujian Province.

According to their official resumes, from 1990 to 2002, both Xi and Wang worked in Fuzhou City, the capital of Fujian Province, with Xi being Wang’s big boss.

Xi was promoted to become the Party boss of Fuzhou in 1990. In 1996, he was again promoted, to be vice Party secretary of Fujian Province in 1996.

He held that post until 2002, when he was promoted to be vice Party secretary and acting governor of Zhejiang Province.

Wang, born and raised in Fujian, became a police officer in Minhou County, located in Fuzhou, in 1979. He rose through the ranks and eventually became director of the Fuzhou police bureau in 1998.

After Xi came to power as Party leader in 2012, he promoted Wang to become vice Party secretary of the Beijing city government and Party secretary of the Beijing police bureau in 2015.

Changes in China’s Security Apparatus?

U.S.-based China commentator Shi Shi told the Chinese-language Epoch Times in a recent interview that Wang’s new position may reflect Xi’s desire to restructure China’s security system.

The Party had already reorganized the MPS in July, in which the previously separate railway, forest, and transportation police forces were subsumed under the supervision of MPS.

With Wang’s new appointment, Xi is deploying a key ally. 

Furthermore, “Appointing Wang, a minister-level official, to lead the Special Security Bureau is akin to having a big shot work a small-time job,” Shi said. Given the peculiarity of such an appointment, “it might mean Xi will reorganize the security apparatus.”

Because of Xi’s trust in Wang, Shi predicted that Xi may have the Special Security Bureau, instead of the Central Security Bureau, take charge of all senior Party officials’ security.

Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.