Friday, April 15, 2005

PLA veterans protesting at Zhongnanhai

While the world focused on the anti-Japanese revisionism protest last weekend, something else was happening in Beijing.

Some questionable news outlet call it a riot, but it looks like a peaceful protest. Never-the-less, the welfare of those vet should be look after. There is no excuse.

Beijing, April 14 Kyodo -- More than 1,000 Chinese soldiers decommissioned from People's Liberation Army posts over the past 10 years demonstrated at central government offices earlier this week to demand support in finding civilian-sector jobs, witnesses said Thursday.

Between Monday and Wednesday, the former soldiers, mainly higher-ranking military members around age 40, demonstrated outside the Zhongnanhai central leadership residential compound, in front of Central Military Commission offices and at a special appeals office in Beijing to demand help, the witnesses said.

Wearing military backpacks, the demonstrators complained at the government offices that they could not find jobs as civilians. Police eventually broke up the demonstrations, the witnesses said.

Street protests over unemployment are common in China, but they seldom exceed 200 people or involve soldiers.

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, military posts lasted a lifetime, but over the past two years, under orders from then Central Military Commission Chairman Jiang Zemin, the army began laying people off while increasing budget allocations for high-tech research and development.

"They've got too many soldiers, too many people...the same problem with government enterprises," said Laurence Brahm, an American businessman in Beijing with contacts in the army. "So they're definitely decommissioning people they don't need."

Local governments take charge of decommissioned soldiers' personal files but do not help them find jobs. Soldiers usually use their military skills, such as the ability to drive, to find work on their own or return to farming villages to plant fields.

"A lot of soldiers have no livelihood," said one of the witnesses, Guan Zengli of Beijing. "It's not like before, where the government gave you work."

However, the 12.6 percent increase in this year's official military budget, to 247.7 billion yuan ($29.9 billion), should go partly to increasing retirement benefits, a National People's Congress spokesman said last month. He said active duty pay and benefits would also increase.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Interesting how military doctrines seem to float to a median of sorts. In the U.S., it seems like less emphasis is being placed on the research recently (in weapons at least) and more is being placed on management of vets and their livelihoods post-service.

As stated in your blog, the Chinese seem to be going the opposite direction; decreasing their manpower and their management of soldiers' lives, while increasing the research.

In the 90's, both were at extreme ends of the spectrum; the US emphasized extremely small and selective units, armed to the teeth with tech, while the Chinese (from an American's point of view, at least)were just beginning to really break out from the heritage of Russian weapons and manufacturing equipment, but were still emphasizing massive numbers and lifetime dedication to the military. the truth of it is probably a good deal more complex for both countries, but that's the way it seems.

makes one wonder where it'll all balance out for both countries.

Excellent Blog by the way. Well written, informative, and concise posts.