Enormous investments have militarized the nation even more, which now has a Big Brother watching their every move.
The leaders of 13 provinces and municipalities met yesterday in Xi’an to discuss social security and repression mechanisms. Latest data on mass protests was presented, showing a nationwide decrease thanks to new military investments and spying methods.
China’s major provinces have claimed a dramatic fall in crime, protests and mass riots due to “significant government investment in strengthening public security”. For some Chinese observers, this is a euphemism for increased surveillance and militarization, which sacrifices human rights laws in the name of espionage and the use of force.
At a national public security meeting in the north-western city of Xian , Shaanxi , yesterday, top party officials from 13 provinces and Beijing exchanged know-how on increasing security personnel and upgrading technology to safeguard social stability.
Top security chief and Politburo member Luo Gan, Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang, president of the Supreme People’s Court Xiao Yang and Procurator-General Jia Chunwang attended the meeting, which was broadcast live on the official website.
The number of “mass incidents” – a euphemism for protests and riots – in Shaanxi dropped by nearly 27 per cent last year, after more than 300,000 were named to head security control centres set up around the province’s vast countryside. Similar statistics also in Jiangsu, Liaoning and Henan. Dong Lei, the province’s deputy party chief, explains that “Surveillance had also been widely deployed, with 69 per cent of areas above the village level installing remote screen monitoring systems”.
The Communist Party is perennially worried about social unrest – fuelled by corruption, illegal land grabs and a rising gap between the rich and poor.
With a key party congress slated for later this year and the 2008 Olympic Games looming large, the central leadership has apparently geared up its efforts to ensure a stable social environment. The government has conceded greater press freedom to foreign reporters and fears that the population may use this “window of opportunity” in censorship to underscore emergency situations of social crises. This is why Wang Anshun, the newly appointed Beijing city deputy party chief, vowed at the meeting to make a “huge security investment” to ensure a safe Olympics extravaganza.
And yet some observers note that these results “are not the fruit of political projects which answered the needs of the local population” but rather come from “the enormous investments which have militarized the nation even more”, which now has a Big Brother watching their every move.
Therefore they conclude, “The central government needs to deal effectively with the root causes of social unrest. If legal mechanisms to protect rights are ignored in favour of spying techniques and brute force, the result will be disharmony, they seek to avoid”.