This is the first time that national security expenditures appeared in the Hong Kong government’s budget since Beijing implemented the national security law at the end of June last year. However, the Hong Kong government did not provide any details of the budget.
Following the resignation of Hong Kong’s democratic legislators in November last year, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, Paul Chan Mo-po, announced the 2021 budget for the first time in the parliament led by the pro-Beijing establishment on Feb. 24.
At the press conference, Chan said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong’s fiscal deficit in 2020 was HK$257.6 billion (about $33.2 billion), which is a record high, and the forecast deficit in 2021 will be HK$101.6 billion (about $13.1 billion), which is equivalent to 3.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Chan used the huge fiscal deficit as an excuse to cut pandemic relief measures and refused to issue more unemployment benefits, according to a report by Voice of America.
However, $1 billion is allocated for “safeguarding national security.”
Reporters from several media outlets asked Chan at the press conference about how the national security budget will be used. Chan did not give any details. He only reiterated that national security expenditures are confidential.
According to a report by the BBC, it is stated in the budget document that the allocation of national security funds was approved by the Chief Executive, from the general government revenue to spend on national security matters and staffing, and is not restricted by the current relevant laws and regulations of Hong Kong.
Liu Ruishao, a senior China current affairs commentator, told Radio Free Asia that the national security budget seemed vague and very similar to the “stability maintenance budget in mainland China,” which is used to maintain social order and suppress individuals who are critical of the Chinese regime. He recalled that when the Chinese regime’s stability maintenance budget was first made known to the public in 2008, “the figure was even larger than its military budget.”