Civilian roads, buildings infringe on P.L.A.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2011, 12:00am


Poorly planned construction and urban expansion have eaten into the territory of some important military facilities such as airports and radar stations, not only making the places harder to defend but also threatening the safety of residents, according to an inspection across the mainland that ended on Sunday.

Major General Meng Guoping, deputy operations director of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army, who headed the checks, told Xinhua that three 'big problems' were undermining the function and safety of military facilities.

The PLA had urged some city governments to solve the problems as quickly as possible.

The disputes involved the boundaries of some core and sensitive military-controlled zones, disturbance of the PLA's electromagnetic environment and airport clearance, and counterfeit military zones set up by civilian government agencies, Meng said. 'These problems have attracted our full attention,' he said.

In some cities, construction work was planned and carried out without regard for military facilities, he said. Expressways were built across permanent camps and civilian buildings blocked military roads.

In such circumstances, the military could no longer guarantee the safety of civilians, he said.

In Beijing, a residential building was built at the base of a military communications antenna, exposing residents to high-level electromagnetic radiation.

In Henan, the Zhengzhou government allowed many skyscrapers to rise up near the runway of a military airport, endangering not only military jets but also the civilians living and working in the buildings.

In Heilongjiang, the Harbin government ignored the military's opposition and built a dam on a river near an air force base, flooding a shooting range for jet fighters and heavy bombers.

In Guangxi, the Beihai government sold land near a radar station to commercial developers, not only cutting the radar's range by more than 60 per cent but also putting civilians at risk of radiation.

Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA general who is now a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said he was not surprised by the findings of the inspection. In peacetime, the lack of communication and co-ordination between civilian governments and the military was a headache in almost every country, he said.

Xu said Beijing enacted a law on protecting military facilities two years ago, and that the checks were meant to see how well it was being executed.

City planners, especially those in mid-sized and small cities, probably did not know about that law, he said. Others might have put economic concerns before the military when drawing up development blueprints.

'Such a conflict of interest is inevitable during peaceful periods. The only solution is that everyone plays by the law. Compared to other countries, the problems of Chinese military facilities are small and under control. Most civilian officials take the military's complaints seriously.'