Chi appeals for defence support

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 1997, 12:00am

Defence Minister General Chi Haotian has called on business and social units to contribute to national defence.

Speaking at a function in Beijing yesterday that honoured the principle of 'national defence consciousness', General Chi said all citizens and units should provide assistance to the military.

'To strengthen national defence is the duty of all government departments, social institutions, businesses and citizens,' Xinhua (the New China News Agency) quoted General Chi as saying.

'Only when the entire society pays attention to, cherishes and supports national defence can the defence system become strong.' General Chi, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, claimed that a strong army was a key factor behind the smooth Hong Kong handover.

Military analysts said it was the first time after the Cultural Revolution that a general called on social and economic units to play an active role in supporting defence.

Earlier, members of the top brass such as General Liu Huaqing had only asked individual factories to give special consideration to helping People's Liberation Army (PLA) research and development.

The analysts said the PLA hoped it would receive a bigger share of national resources now that reunification with Taiwan had become a national priority.

Meanwhile, an army source said yesterday the PLA had completed restructuring and modernising its units.

He said the emphasis was on hi-tech, specialised, and rapid-response units, particularly those in the Navy and Air Force.

By contrast, less modern divisions in the Army, including some engineering and tank units, had been reduced.

The semi-official China News Service (CNS) reported yesterday that the PLA had 'successfully mastered' technology in areas including atomic and nuclear bombs, intercontinental missiles, satellites and nuclear submarines.

It said China had become one of only five countries to have fully mastered nuclear and space technology.

It also reported the Special Police Regiment in the paramilitary People's Armed Police had achieved new breakthroughs.

The unit, which is in charge of anti-terrorist and anti-riot operations, was instrumental in curbing disturbances in Tibet and Xinjiang this year.

CNS said President Jiang Zemin had seen four demonstrations of the brigade's expertise.