The Center for Strategic Translation provides statesmen and scholars with the tools needed to interpret the Chinese party-state of today while training a new generation of China specialists with the skills needed to guide our relations with the China of tomorrow.

The Center meets this need through initiatives in translation and education. The Center locates, translates, and annotates documents of historic or strategic value that are currently only available in Chinese. Our introductory essays, glossaries, and commentaries are designed to make these materials accessible and understandable to statesmen and scholars with no special expertise in Chinese politics or the Chinese language.

Complementing the Center’s published translations are the Center’s training seminars. Starting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to instruct young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources.
The Center is an initiative of the American Governance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that studies and promotes the betterment of American public institutions and publishes the quarterly magazine Palladium. The Center is directed by Tanner Greer, a noted essayist, journalist, and researcher with expertise interpreting China in the context of American foreign policy.


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Total National Security Paradigm
Zǒngtǐ Guójiā Ānquán Guān

The Total National Security Paradigm is a set of interlinked concepts that party sources describe as Xi Jinping’s signature contribution to Chinese security theory. Xi introduced the paradigm in a 2014 address where he instructed cadres to “pay attention to both traditional and non-traditional security, and build a national security system that integrates such elements as political, military, economic, cultural, social, science and technology, information, ecological, resource, and nuclear security” (Xi 2014, p. 221-222).  This distinction between traditional [传统] and non-traditional [非传统] security is key to Xi’s paradigm. “Traditional security” is oriented around threats to China’s territorial integrity and threats from foreign military powers. The Total National Security Paradigm guides cadres to place equal emphasis on “non-traditional security” threats which cannot be resolved with military tools, but which are potentially as dangerous as military defeat.

Variously translated as the Holistic Approach to National Security, the Comprehensive National Security Concept, or the Overall National Security Outlook, the core of Xi's security paradigm is a maximalist conception of security. This intellectual framework blurs the lines between hard and soft power, internal and external threats, and traditional distinctions between the worlds of economics, culture, and diplomacy. China’s accounting of its security must be “total” [总体].

Though the Total National Security Paradigm is the most forceful and systematic presentation of this idea, it is not new to Party thought. Mao introduced the phrase PEACEFUL EVOLUTION into the party lexicon to describe the threat posed by Western powers who hoped to overthrow communist regimes by instigating revolution from within. The collapse of the Soviet Union vividly demonstrated what happened to a party who ignored this threat. From that moment to the present day, party leaders and state intellectuals have portrayed the Communist Party of China as safeguarding a system under siege. Be they faced with economic coercion and political isolation or friendly offers to integrate into the international order, party authorities consistently describe their country as the object of hostile stratagems designed to subvert China’s domestic stability and the Party’s unquestioned rule.

Xi Jinping’s solution to this problem differs from its predecessors more in scale than concept. Officials in the Jiang and Hu eras offered regular warnings about the danger that ideological dissent, social protest, online media, and official corruption posed to the Party’s hold on power. The Total National Security Paradigm formalized these warnings into a more systematic conceptual framework. In Leninist systems theoretical frameworks like these are the necessary prerequisite of bureaucratic overhaul. If this was the concept’s purpose it seems to have accomplished its aim: by the 20th Congress, the Chinese government was spending more on its internal security budget than on military power, the state security apparatus saw fresh expansion down to lower levels of government, and new national bodies like the Central National Security Commission (CNSC) [中央国家安全委员会] were coordinating state security functions across China’s bureaucratic labyrinth.



Blanchette, Jude. 2022. “The Edge of an Abyss: Xi Jinping’s Overall National Security Outlook,” China Leadership Monitor; Cheung, Tai Ming. 2022. Innovate to Dominate: The Rise of the Chinese Techno-Security State. Ithica: Cornell University Press; Greitens, Sheena Chesnut. “Internal Security & Chinese Strategy,” hearing on “The United States’ Strategic Competition with China” § Senate Armed Services Committee; Hoffman, Samantha. 2017. “Programming China: the Communist Party’s autonomic approach to managing state security,” PhD diss, University of Nottingham. Wuthnow, Joel. 2022. “Transforming China’s National Security Architecture in the Xi Era” hearing on “CCP Decision-Making and the 20th Party Congress” § U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing; Xi Jinping. 2014. Governance of China, vol I. Beijing: Foreign Language Press.

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