China Public Safety: Is there a need for such a large police presence?
With millions of Chinese making long journeys home for the annual Spring Festival, safety is a big concern. It's something the government is very aware of, and the increased presence of police on the streets during this period is very noticeable. But while the extra security is comfort to some, it can often be off-putting to others. CGTN's Li Jianhua went out on the streets of the Chinese capital to get some opinions.
"Beijing, comparatively speaking, is safe. The government is doing a good job in safeguarding peace."
"I think it's better than Western countries - the government has been doing a lot to crack down on crime. There is some security on buses - and some plain clothes police - but I can't recognize them. It's safe in Beijing."
"The police presence is chasing away those who want to make a fuss in public. It's safe here."
Is China a safe country? A question which draws a lot of different answers, yet their essence remains the same. China, despite its large population, is an extremely safe country. However, do people feel safe because of the increased domestic security?
PROFESSOR ZHANG XIAOBING PEOPLE'S PUBLIC SECURITY UNIVERSITY OF CHINA "Before China's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, it practiced a planned economy. Back then, the police were only assigned to cover a certain amount of the population, but after reform and opening up, migration became more active, hence the higher crime rate. That's why the central government has increased the police presence -- this is normal."
China has been accused of not revealing all its domestic security and law enforcement spending in a bid to "maintain stability". A recent report speculated that in 2016, the figure would have been around 26 billion US dollars. However, experts say that can only be a vague estimate, as the calculation would involve many unknown elements.
PROFESSOR ZHANG XIAOBING PEOPLE'S PUBLIC SECURITY UNIVERSITY OF CHINA "Western countries focus more on policing when it comes to tackling crime -- of course, police should be the prominent component. But China is more focused on how to coordinate different parties, especially the ordinary people. I think the public are playing a major role in dealing with crime."
Professor Zhang also pointed out that despite the large police presence in China proportionally, it's still fewer than the US.
PROFESSOR ZHANG XIAOBING PEOPLE'S PUBLIC SECURITY UNIVERSITY OF CHINA "The number of police in China is about two million. In some western countries, like the US, the number is around 700 thousand. But the US has a population of only 300 million. China has 1.3 billion."
LI JIANHUA BEIJING "China has a population of 1.3 billion, and in its capital alone, the number stands at 25 million, which is equivalent to the population of Australia. This staggering figure can be said to be overwhelming for any country in the world. LJH, CGTN, BJ."