China internal security spending jumps past army budget

BEIJING, March 5 (Reuters) – China’s spending on police and
domestic surveillance will hit new heights this year, with
“public security” outlays unveiled on Saturday outstripping the
defence budget for the first time as Beijing cracks down on
protest calls.

China’s ruling Communist Party also issued its loudest
warning yet against recent Internet-spread calls for “Jasmine
Revolution” protest gatherings inspired by popular uprisings in
North Africa and the Middle East.

The 13.8 percent jump in China’s planned budget for police,
state security, armed civil militia, courts and jails was
unveiled at the start of the annual parliamentary session, and
brought planned spending on law and order items to 624.4 billion
yuan ($95.0 billion).

By contrast, China’s People’s Liberation Army budget is set
to rise 12.7 percent to 601.1 billion yuan ($91.5 billion).

“This would be the first time that the openly announced
domestic security budget has surpassed military spending”, said
Xie Yue, a political scientist at Tongji University in Shanghai.
He called the figure a gauge of China’s spending on what
officials call “stability protection.”

“This shows the rising costs of maintaining internal
control,” said Xie, who studies China’s domestic security
policies and spending. “This system is very sensitive to any
instability or contention.”

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