China Increases Security to Prevent Mass Unrest

January 7, 2009 3:37 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 10:25 pm

Police presence is being increased to prevent large-scale civic unrest.   (Royal Ascot Garden property owner)
Police presence is being increased to prevent large-scale civic unrest. (Royal Ascot Garden property owner)
The Chinese government cancelled all breaks and holidays normally taken by armed police and public security officers in such large cities as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. It seems they feel it necessary to strengthen security at airports, bus stations, and railway stations to prevent mass disturbances.

According to Radio Free Asia, the authorities in Sichuan, (site of a recent major earthquake), Xinjiang, and Tibet (where ethnic minorities live), also ordered police and security forces to cancel their vacations. Hong Kong-based Ming Pao Daily reported last Wednesday that China’s weak financial condition has led to the closing of a lot of enterprises, and a high unemployment rate.

There has been an increase in the number of mass incidents from those who want their unpaid salaries and protection of their rights. Public order has deteriorated. In addition, 2009 is a politically charged year as it is the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party regime, the 50th anniversary of the Dalai’s exile from Tibet, the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Democratic Movement, and the 90th anniversary of the May 4th Movement.

According to Ming Pao, security levels in Beijing are back at the same level as they were during the Olympic games. In the subway, all passenger packages must be checked.

Liu Feiyue, in charge of China Livelihood Observation Studio, said that China’s social environment has recently become tense and it has a lot to do with the economic downturn. 

“From the reaction of the government, we can see it is worried about an outbreak of various kinds of social unrest. So, it tightens control on every aspect of daily life. The regime has taken many actions, including suppressing dissidents. The officials themselves said that stability is everything. It indeed shows their concern,” said Liu.

Ming Pao gave examples of how China's social security and order are facing a severe test. Recently a farmer in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province threw grenades into a bar in Kunming, which resulted in three deaths.

An analysis by columnist Zhang Tianliang stated that in the past years, the root of the legitimacy of the Communist regime lay in the country’s economic growth. Thus, social conflicts have intensified as the economy plummets. The public will be less content with the government. “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) monopolizes of the power, so it has to be responsible for everything that happens. Under this circumstance, common people will certainly target the CCP when the economy is not good. For the CCP, the economic issue is no longer an economic issue, but a political one. Many people will resort to violence when they want to vent their grievances. We can see it from the Weng'an Incident and Yang Jia’s case. So the CCP is particularly tense."

According to Ming Pao, Beijing’s top leaders demanded that the public security departments and armed police forces increase security from the beginning of January through the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March 2009. Holidays for the public security police, the anti-bombing police, and the armed police have been canceled. Security checks at all airports, bus and train stations, and docks have been intensified. Liu said that 2009 is indeed a difficult year for the Chinese government.

In an earlier report, it stated that from November 2008 until the end of March 2009, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security would conduct strict oppression of terrorists, underground Christian churches, human rights activists, protesters, and democratic activists. Substantially strengthening the security checks at all public places apparently is part of the strategy.