Mandatory PLA duty cut to two years
The PLA is to cut the length of compulsory military service to two years as part of an effort to attract better-educated youngsters in its modernisation drive.
Service in the army is being reduced from three years, while in the air force and navy it is being cut from four.
The proposed legislation was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday.
Explaining the amended draft law to legislators, Chief Political Commissar General Yu Yongbo said: 'Many young people old enough to join the army hesitate because of the long enlistment period. The fact that parents also object to the long service period affects the number of recruits.' General Yu said the length of the current enlistment periods created big problems for highly qualified young people and dampened their enthusiasm for voluntary enlistment.
The move was needed to improve the quality and effectiveness of the PLA and upgrade the standards of military technology, said the general. Youngsters with a higher education background were being targeted as recruits.
While all mainland youngsters face conscription in theory, only a small minority actually serve in the PLA.
Military leaders want to lift the volunteer portion of their forces to 35 per cent by 2000, from 18 per cent today.
'The extended service in the army will not be needed with the establishment of this system of volunteer soldiers,' Xinhua quoted General Yu as saying.
Military trainers used to argue the enlistment period for air and naval forces should be longer than for the land force because it would take a longer time for recruits to grasp specific technology involved in their duties. But General Yu said with the recruitment of better-educated people, two years would be enough for the air force and navy.
Several high-profile laws related to village democracy, adoption, security and administrative appeals were submitted to the senior legislators' meeting.
The draft revision to the Basic Law on Village Committees, adopted 10 years ago, sought to strengthen democracy at the grassroots, said Xinhua.
The revision would mean direct elections at village level were no longer just pilot programmes but compulsory for all villages. However, grassroots party cells would still assume a leadership role in rural work.