Striving for security

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 10, 2013
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There has been much in the news lately about "security", but I have been disappointed in the narrow way in which many have conceived of the concept. I would submit that security is a multi-faceted construct. Wouldn't it be great if we could find a way to use big data analytics to measure and then track China's progress in both maintaining and enhancing its security in the decades ahead?

The rapidly growing world of "Big Data" is being used in surprising ways. For example, I read recently about a "happiness index" developed by using an algorithm which scans through the mountain of data on twitter, identifies key words that connote happiness and well being, compares the frequency and pattern of those words and charts the findings on a day-to-day basis.

If we can do a happiness index, could we not also create a "security index?" An index is important because security is not a static concept but one which varies according to circumstance. Moreover, achieving security in just a few areas may not leave us secure overall. For example, achieving economic progress at the expense of the environment will not lead to a very secure future.

But what would be included in such an index? Here, in no particular order, is my top ten security list.

1. Country border security. From a government perspective, securing law and order and protecting a country's borders is the primary role of government.

2. Food and health security. True individual freedom and security cannot exist if people do not have enough to eat or the quality of the food to be consumed cannot be trusted. It is thus an imperative of both government and every individual to be secure in getting enough sustenance and also having confidence in the system infrastructure (e.g. food labelling) that enables the delivery of that sustenance.

3. Economic security. In an economic sense, people want to have, at a minimum, a sustainable economic model which enables both individuals and society as a whole to not only survive but hopefully survive. In this regard, China is right to be concerned about the growing inequality between the wealthy and the poor. It is important that all Chinese citizens share in, and prosper from, China's increasing economic growth and development.

4. Environmental and climate security. In terms of security, if we don't have a safe environment, what is there to secure and defend? If the quality of the environment is poor it impacts the health and wellbeing of everyone. Thus, most governance models today would rightly include sustainable development as an essential component of all aspects of governance.

5. Infrastructure and institutional security. People also want to and must have confidence in the basic institutions (education, health, welfare) in a society. As a result, this is also an important component of security.

6. Technology security. Technology, or the lack of it, impacts the lives of all Chinese citizens today. Yet, the benefits of technology will not be realized unless people have confidence in the security of their data. As Microsoft's Bill Gates noted: "Security is, I would say, our top priority because for all the exciting things you will be able to do with computers – organizing your lives, staying in touch with people, being creative – if we don't solve these security problems, then people will hold back." If China is to realize its immense e-commerce potential, a high level of security is required so that people trust the system. As technology increasingly impacts every aspect of our lives, a secure technology infrastructure will be required if the Chinese Dream is to become a reality.

7. Energy security. The economy needs energy to grow. People need energy to keep warm, for lighting and to fulfil many other needs. China has to secure its energy future if it is to achieve its economic goals.

8. Personal security. There is also a strong sense of the need for personal security. People need to feel safe on the streets and in their homes.

9. Family security. The family is vitally important in Chinese society. It is important, therefore, that families as a whole also feel secure that society is meeting their needs and that they are confident about the future.

10. Security about the future. Finally, it is important that people generally feel optimistic about China's future. They need to feel that they, their families, their employer, their city, their country are all moving forward. In this regard riding a bicycle is a good metaphor: A person can only maintain his balance, poise, and sense of security by moving forward.

My best wishes for a more secure China and world in the years ahead!

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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