38,000 armed forces jobs to go
Vivien Pik-Kwan Chan
The PLA and the People's Armed Police will shed 38,000 positions this year as part of a plan to streamline the armed forces.
In the past year, the army has demobilised 43,000 staff and settled their 10,000 relatives. Authorities said most had found civilian jobs with official help, but many also managed to start new careers by themselves.
'This year, 11,000 military staff have chosen to pick their new jobs by themselves,' Yu Yongbo, head of the PLA General Political Department, said at a national meeting aimed at helping demobilised soldiers.
Mr Yu urged all levels of government and Communist Party units to help demobilised soldiers find work, amid government fears that disgruntled former military officers may pose a threat to national security and social stability.
'It is important to uphold stability this year as we have to prepare for the 16th Party Congress,' Mr Yu said, referring to the top party meeting in the autumn, when a major leadership reshuffle is expected.
State-owned firms are required to employ former soldiers, while some local governments have moved them into lower-level courts to work.
Government regulations stipulate that former soldiers' housing, pay and benefits must be on par with levels in the forces.
Savings made by reducing the armed forces' ranks are believed to be channelled into upgrading weapons and other defence systems.
Despite assurances from authorities that the country's rapid economic growth will help laid-off military personnel find suitable jobs, many displaced soldiers have had difficulty finding work or settling down when they did.