China unveiled its central government 2013 public security budget this week, which showed a 9 per cent year-on-year increase.
China’s Ministry of Finance released the central government’s 2013 budget on Monday, a week after the annual national parliamentary convention. The budget for internal security was set at 128.9 billion yuan (HK$161 billion), up 10.6 billion yuan or 9 per cent from a year before.
The public security budget has grown 76.1 per cent since 2009. Although it has seen annual increases over the past three years, growth is slowing, with increases of 17.1 and 10.2 per cent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Officially referred to as “public security”, the budget covers expenditure for the nation’s armed police force, police, courts, jails and overall state security.
The bulk of the budget, 100.6 billion yuan, was allocated to the armed police force whose role is to maintain social stability, handle emergencies, combat terrorism and assist the army in defensive operations. Most of the increased funds will be used to improve meals, equipment and apartment buildings.
Earlier this month, a draft budget released ahead of the national congress meeting came under fire. It indicated that national public security spending in 2013, including both central and local government's expenses, would exceed 769 billion yuan, more than the 740 billion yuan allocated to China’s military.
China’s internal security budget often sparks heated discussion among foreign media and online as it is referred to as “stability maintenance”. Angered by the use of armed police to violently quell social unrest, Chinese political dissidents and human rights critics often argue the fund is mainly used to finance suppression of discontent provoked by government corruption, social inequality and pollution.
Government and state media, nonetheless, have repeatedly defended the budget’s legitimacy. A Ministry of Finance official previously pointed out the local government's funds from the public security budget are often allocated to areas such as building safety, public traffic and public health, making it more than a “stability maintenance” fund.
Xinhua also quoted a study by the International Monetary Fund that said Germany, Britain, Japan, Russia and Australia all have public security expenses over and above military spending.