09/07/2007, 00.00
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Pre-Congress crackdown against the “enemies of socialism”

Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang urges police to “safeguard the leadership of the party, the Socialist system and the people's democratic dictatorship” during the 17th congress of the Chinese Communist Party next month. Mass protest is the enemy number one.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese police authorities said they will tighten security in the capital ahead of the 17th congress of the Chinese Communist Party which will be held next month, citing mass protests, the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, and Tibetan and Uygur separatists as the main threats to stability.

Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang warned daunting challenges lay ahead for “creating a harmonious and stable social environment for a successful 17th party congress.” Ensuring political and social stability was a top priority for police.

His warning illustrates what many analysts are saying, namely that mass protests and demonstrations have become Beijing’s main problem.

In the past year the number of violent mass protests has grown almost exponentially, targeting local government guilty in seizing land, stealing compensation funds and turning a blind eye on pollution. The Party knows this and has on several occasions given local governments carte blanche to stop them.

Mr Zhou urged local authorities to step up information collection on security threats to prevent sabotage and mass incidents.

He admitted though that maintaining social harmony and stability will be difficult since so many factors remain uncertain.

None the less, police “must safeguard the leadership of the party, the socialist system and the people's democratic dictatorship with their actions,” he said.

In addition to mass protests, the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that was banned eight years ago as an evil cult, tops the list of perceived threats to national security. In fact, despite repression, the movement has been able to organise mass anti-government actions.

For Zhou, all hostile forces at home and abroad, ethnic separatists, religious extremists and terrorists must be kept under tight control.

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