Almost $77 billion will be spent combating internal threats this year, according to figures from the Ministry of Finance. The sum is almost the same as the $78 billion China spends on defence.
The funding is going on a vast network of official and unofficial police, including the employment of an estimated five million private security guards this year. These guards are used as an unofficial police force by the Ministry of Public Security.
Many had predicted China would relax security after a yearlong clampdown that preceded the Olympic Games in 2008.
However, this year’s budget will be 44 per cent higher than in 2008, suggesting that China’s leaders see threats growing, rather than receding.
While China appears stable to the outside world, the view from inside is quite different.
Yu Jianrong, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told an audience of lawyers that he had recently visited a group of retired “ministry-level” cadres and was told by one: “You think that China’s society will not experience upheaval. I think that it will definitely experience upheaval, and that time is not too far distant.” Yu said there had been more than 90,000 mass protests in China each year since 2007.
He added: “What is key is the increase in especially large mass incidents. This increase is truly worrying to the leaders.”
Zhang Jing, a professor in domestic security, said: “We need to build social welfare systems and other prevention processes.”