BEIJING (Reuters) - China will increase spending on police, militia and other domestic security arms by 11.5 percent to $111 billion this year, figures released on Monday showed, ahead of a leadership succession that has kindled fear of instability.
The numbers show how vigilant China’s ruling Communist Party is against unrest, despite robust economic growth and years of budget rises for law-and-order agencies, which in 2010 pushed outlays on them past military spending for the first time.
The rise in China’s budget for police, state security, armed militia, courts and jails and other items it describes as “public security” was unveiled in the Ministry of Finance’s report issued at the start of the annual parliamentary session.
For 2012, China set combined central and local government spending on domestic security at 701.8 billion yuan ($111.4 billion), compared with 629.3 billion yuan in 2011, when it grew by nearly 13.8 percent, the Chinese-language report showed.
China will boost defence spending by 11.2 percent this year to 670.3 billion yuan ($106.4 billion).
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told the party-run parliament, the National People’s Congress, that 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.”
Since last year, President Hu Jintao has pressed a campaign to strengthen “social management” and pre-empt unrest before he retires from the Communist Party leadership in late 2012 and from the presidency in early 2013.
The number of “mass incidents” of unrest recorded by the Chinese government grew from 8,700 in 1993 to about 90,000 in 2010, according to several government-backed studies. Some estimates are higher, and the government has not released official data for recent years.
Most of these riots, protests and mass petitions are brief, localised flare-ups. But officials worry that economic growth, urbanisation and the Internet could nurture broader political defiance that could ultimately threaten one-party rule.
Hu and other leaders have admonished officials to prepare for greater risks to party control as China’s citizens become more mobile, more connected, wealthier and more vocal about inequality and corruption.
Those worries have been magnified by uprisings against authoritarian governments across the Arab world, and are especially acute as the Communist Party prepares for the leadership handover, which will most likely install Vice President Xi Jinping as Hu’s successor.
The bulk of China’s spending growth on internal security and law and order comes under provincial and local government outlays, tables in the Chinese-language version of the Finance Ministry report showed.
The central government’s domestic security budget for 2012 is 182.3 billion yuan, a rise of 7.7 percent
($1 = 6.298 yuan)
Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Paul Tait