Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Fact of the Day: Public Security Trumps Defense

The 11th National People's Congress is underway in Beijing and there is a lot of intrigue about body language, who meets who, what is said and how it should all be interpreted.

On Sunday it was all about what to make of Vice President Xi Jinping shaking the hands of those who support Hong Kong Chief Executive candidate Leung Chun-ying before pressing the flesh with those in Henry Tang Ying-yen's camp.

And then all eyes were on Chongqing Party boss Bo Xilai and how he would be treated by senior officials; no definitive conclusion can be made yet.

Yesterday Premier Wen Jiabao gave his annual work report. The main point was that the government has set this year's economic growth target to 7.5 percent, the first drop in eight years. However, many are interpreting this as a good sign, so that China can focus more on sustainable development and also decrease output with the economic instability in Europe and the United States.

Another announcement he made was that central and local government spending on domestic security was set at 701.8 billion RMB ($111.4 billion), compared with 629.3 billion RMB in 2011 when it grew by 13.8 percent.

The interesting part about this whopping figure is that it is much larger than the defense budget which is at 670.3 billion RMB ($106.4 billion).

Wen said the government must "effectively defuse various types of conflicts, risks and dangers; prevent isolated problems from growing into major ones, and promote social harmony and stability."

He was hinting of the problems in restive areas like Tibet and Xinjiang, but also hundreds of thousands of riots that erupt in the country.

When a government spends more money on "public security" than on national defense, this clearly illustrates how scared the Chinese government is of its own people.

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