'From the outset, respect for the most generic context might have invited more scepticism about the significance of Chen Zhimin’s remarks. Anyone with a middling knowledge of information controls in China should know that the Public Security Bureau has always played a central role in internet control. Sources abound. Try Anne-Marie Brady’s Marketing Dictatorship, or trudge through the richness of other books, papers and primers.
'The obvious question arising from that context: Given the PSB’s historic involvement in information controls in China, how are these “cybersecurity police units” actually new?
'And once we’ve asked that question, the answer comes back simply enough, without even the need to get insiders on the telephone. They aren’t new at all. We can find close to 50 articles on these so-called wang’an jingwushi in China’s own media over the past four years.
'As far as I can ascertain from Chinese-language news databases, the first instance of “cybersecurity police units” appeared in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, on December 31, 2010 — nearly a full two years, incidentally, before Xi Jinping became general secretary.'