Hu Jintao

Politburo tackles social unrest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am


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A Politburo meeting chaired by President Hu Jintao yesterday discussed ways to 'strengthen and innovate' social management, state media reported.

The high-level meeting on the issue by the Communist Party's top decision-makers came in the wake of several high-profile cases of public disturbance and violent unrest following years of mounting social tensions across the mainland.

At the meeting, Hu and other party leaders acknowledged that the mainland was in 'a period of prominent social contradictions, [making] the task of social management all the more arduous', Xinhua reported. The state news agency did not attribute the remarks to individual leaders, instead reporting them as the consensus reached at the meeting.

Better social management was key to 'constantly meeting the people's daily increasing materialistic needs', it said, adding that the party's performance in the task would affect its long-term ability to rule.

'[Social management] would affect the party's ruling status, the country's long-term stability and the people's prosperity,' the report said.

The term 'social management' - first introduced by Hu at a Politburo meeting in February - has become a buzzword used by the central government as a euphemism for social controls aimed at defusing tensions between a disenfranchised public and their political overlords.

Those tensions - which have been growing steadily as inflation, housing prices and rampant development take their toll on the public mood - have peaked in recent months in many areas, culminating in a series of incidents this month.

Police stepped up security across Inner Mongolia yesterday in an attempt to prevent more demonstrations after Mongolians staged massive protests last week over the death of a herdsman who had been run over by a coal truck.

In Fuzhou , Jiangxi province, three bombs exploded outside government buildings on Thursday in an apparent protest against land grabs by local authorities.

The central government's nervousness about social unrest was laid bare in February and March with the authorities' heavy-handed response to calls for 'jasmine demonstrations' following the series of popular movements that swept across the Middle East and North Africa.

A Ministry of Finance report released in March said the public security budget had risen 13.8 per cent year on year to 624 billion yuan (HK$746.7 billion) as a result of the demands to maintain stability.

The 12th five-year plan, covering the years to 2015, contains for the first time a chapter dedicated to 'social governance', stating the need to adopt preventative measures to reduce social problems.

At the meeting, the Politburo said resolving social problems was 'extremely urgent' and would require 'long-term efforts'. It underscored the need to protect people's interests - especially the poor - improve the management of grass-roots organisations and promote social justice. The meeting also called for the public security system to be strengthened.


The amount by which the public security budget has risen year on year, taking the total spent on maintaining stability to 624 billion yuan