Generals in vow of loyalty to President

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 March, 1999, 12:00am

PLA generals have pledged support for the party leadership in return for a bigger share of national resources.

Top army officers attending the National People's Congress (NPC) have vowed to support the leadership headed by President Jiang Zemin and to 'safeguard' the reform and open-door policy.

However, military analysts said the party leadership had continued to let the generals have a lot of say over non-military matters, including foreign policy and economic planning.

Haggling between the Politburo and army officers went on over the speed of closing down PLA enterprises.

Speaking at the NPC, Chief Political Commissar General Yu Yongbo said the army would 'embrace and support reform with a clear-cut attitude and a high degree of self-awareness'.

General Yu declared the PLA's 'principle of the four loyalties': be loyal to the party, the people, the nation and socialism.

Xinhua yesterday quoted Chief of Staff General Fu Quanyou as saying military work must serve 'the overall task of economic construction'.

It also quoted the top brass as saying: 'We will maintain the troops' high degree of stability and unity.' The senior generals vowed to 'maintain a high degree of unison' with the party leadership, with Mr Jiang as its core.

A Western diplomat said the top brass was anxious to dispel the impression that the PLA got a disproportionately large share of the budget and other resources.

'In return for the PLA's support, Jiang and [Premier] Zhu Rongji have given weight to the generals' views even in non-military affairs,' he said.

Mr Zhu has honoured the principle of the 'synthesis of the needs of soldiers and civilians, and the needs of peace and war'. This means that in areas such as infrastructure planning, the PLA's views must be sought.

Army officers have also lobbied for the inclusion of 'national defence concepts' in the curriculum of schools.

Individual army officers have hinted that the 12.7 per cent boost in the military budget is not enough.

The former head of the Beijing military region, General Li Laizhu, pointed out that China's military budget of 104.65 billion yuan (HK$97.32 billion) 'cannot be said to be high'.

'China's military outlay is not quite US$13 billion (HK$100 billion) compared with around US$300 billion for the US,' the general said on the fringe of the NPC.

In theory, all PLA enterprises were closed down before the end of last year.

Yet army sources said while a number of military enterprises had theoretically been incorporated under government units, they were still run by PLA officers.