Private firms will boost staff, intelligence and tools to better protect Chinese interests abroad
China will beef up its private security services overseas to protect life and property, with stronger manpower, better equipment and intelligence, and more effective operations, industry analysts and insiders said on Thursday.
The country now has about 3,200 security professionals protecting Chinese companies overseas. That is far fewer than major global security service providers such as US-based Blackwater Worldwide, which has more than 23,500 employees around the world and has trained over 100,000 professionals, data from the China Overseas Security and Defense Research Center in Beijing show.
Large companies, including China Security and Protection Co and JAS Security Group, both based in Beijing, plan to recruit more professionals, as well as to establish an industry union to integrate resources of China's 20 largest security service companies to gain more contracts.
Tools including multifunctional safety rooms, armored vehicles, anti-bomb walls, police dogs and chemical defense equipment will help them upgrade their ability to protect such clients as China National Petroleum Corp and China Road and Bridge Corp in Africa and Latin America.
Liu Xinping, deputy director of the China Overseas Security and Defense Research Center, said members of the union will share intelligence, maritime-and land-based logistics networks, base facilities and defense equipment.
As many Chinese businesses focus on expanding their global presence, a total of 847,000 Chinese now work in more than 16,000 companies throughout the world, data released by the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing show.
However, many of these companies' assets and staff, especially in Africa and the Middle East, face threats from terrorism as well as geopolitical and tribal conflicts.
"Because China doesn't have a strong military presence in foreign countries, and most foreign governments prohibit security service companies from carrying guns, it is crucial for Chinese security companies to build close communication channels with local police stations and army bases, as well as Chinese communities in host countries," said Li Jiang, head of the overseas department of China Security and Protection.
Yang Qian, deputy secretary-general of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank, said "enhanced intelligence coordination is needed for identifying terrorists, their movements and logistics and funding pipelines between and within governments in the region".
Yang said China should establish a specialized government body to ensure that its companies' overseas interests can be efficiently protected and to further reduce dependence on Western security service companies.
The China Overseas Security and Defense Research Center estimated that Chinese companies pay more than US$10 billion each year for protection services worldwide. However, it said, Chinese security companies hold less than 10 percent of the industry's global market share.