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Watching dissidents is a booming business in China
Activist teacher not allowed in classroom; surveillance posted outside home
Free-market reforms broke the totalitarian grip and gave people incentive to leave farms and state jobs for work in booming cities and industrial zones. Private lives and private wealth blossomed, creating less reason for snooping.
Money now fuels the extensive surveillance system. Budgeted spending for police, courts, prosecutors and other law enforcement has soared for much of the past decade, surpassing official outlays for the military for the second year in a row this year, to nearly $110 billion.
Allocated by Beijing to the provinces and on down, the money sometimes is called “stability preservation funds” for the overriding priority the government now puts on control.
As long as trouble is quelled, Beijing doesn’t seem to mind how this money is spent. It’s proving a growth opportunity for cash-strapped local governments and small-time enforcers.
Along with the police, Mr. Yao counts the city education bureau as benefiting from the funds available for his surveillance. His minders are mainly drawn from the bureau, his Qianjiang Experimental Primary School and the ranks of physical education teachers throughout the city school system.
Anywhere from 14 to 50 people a day are on the local government payroll for his round-the-clock surveillance - what he calls the “Yao Lifa special squad.” They get $8 for a day shift and twice that for night work. Often, he said, hotel rooms, transport, meals and cigarettes are thrown in.
The sums add up in Qianjiang, a city of struggling factories and one million people set in the center of the country. Basic pay runs about 1,000 yuan, or $160, a month for an entry-level teacher and goes to three times that amount for a veteran, Mr. Yao said.
“This isn’t bad for teachers,” said Mr. Yao. “An English teacher probably wouldn’t take it. They can earn extra money giving private tutoring. But gym teachers can’t do the tutoring. Besides, their superiors have told them to do this. They can’t not do it.”
In the deep south farming county of Yun’an, more than a quarter of its 6,700 officials are on the “stability” payroll, the magazine Caijing reported last year.
Township “stability” offices spent money on vans, motorcycles and computers, and also allocated reward money - $3,100 in 2010 - for stopping any disgruntled local from going to Beijing to complain about conditions, the report said.
Some nights, Mr. Yao said shady-looking men sleep in a car by his building’s entrance, in addition to the police in a hut. He said he heard the school and education bureau were arguing over $48,000 for his surveillance.
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