Friday, August 22, 2008

China security state growth forecast

Willy Lam, Hong Kong-based China scholar, writing in the Asian WSJ, sees two emergent trends continuing in the wake of the Beijing Olympics. First, growth in popular unrest; and second, the continued rise of the national security state. Lam writes:
Many of these incidents have to do with peasants whose land has been grabbed by corrupt officials, or workers and migrant laborers who have been deprived of their pensions and other rightful benefits. Confrontation between the masses and police is tipped to rise owing to recent difficulties in the economy. Some 67,000 medium-sized enterprises folded in the first half of the year. And the livelihood of workers and farmers has been rendered more difficult by inflation that is hovering between 6% and 7%.

Growing instability on various fronts has predisposed the Hu leadership toward strengthening the police-state apparatus that has been put together in the name of ensuring a trouble-free Olympics. Moreover, cadres in the law-and-order establishment, who include senior officials in the Central Political and Legal Commission as well as military, police and judicial departments, have gained immense clout, not to mention much more funding, since early this year.

These units have used their extra budgets to hire tens of thousands of new staff, in addition to acquiring hardware that includes state-of-the-art antiriot gear and hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras and related equipment. It is in the vested interests of this fast-expanding law-and-order establishment to play up the imperative of eradicating "enemies of the party," whether real or imagined.
The two trends promise to feed one another, at least up to a point.

Moreover, as Naomi Klein recently described, the growth of the national security state in the US brought forth new technologies which Western companies now make available to the security apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party.

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