China would “strengthen our capacity to ensure overseas security and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal entities overseas,” Xi said at the 20th National Congress.
Notably, a PSC protects a single strategic point, such as an embassy, port or military base.
Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies (MERICS), in a 2018 report noted that there are 5,000 registered Chinese PSCs and some 3,200 personnel operating in several countries including Pakistan and Iraq.
As per the US-based think tank Jamestown Foundation, the global PSC industry is worth between USD 100-224 billion annually, with the US being the largest consumer of private military and security services.
Starting in the 2010s, the use of “security for hire” and paramilitary, non-state actors have been on the rise, according to a Jamestown report published in October.
Given its expanding geo-economic and geopolitical ambitions, China, akin to other actors, will need to ensure physical security and protection of its citizens, resources and assets abroad, it adds.
The US think tank says Chinese businesses and the state will have to expand the use of security mechanisms.
Incidentally, the employment of the People’s Liberation Army is not considered the best option. Moreover, reliance on local security providers is also associated with multiple risks as well.
“Thus, in pushing ahead with foreign investments, Beijing would have to increase reliance on private security providers, including those originating from China,” the think tank added.