China’s top military body orders officials to pull out all stops to resettle 58,000 redundant troops
Central Military Commission tells provinces and local governments not to hinder the first wave of 300,000 PLA layoffs scheduled by the end of 2017
Leaders of 10 provinces and municipalities have pledged to find jobs for redundant 58,000 military officers, the first batch affected by President Xi Jinping’s plan announced last year reduce the People’s Liberation Army by 300,000 troops.
In a rare move, the People’s Liberation Army Daily on Thursday published a full-page special report made up of promises from party chiefs, deputy governors and mayors, as well as officials in charge of personnel affairs in the municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai, and provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Jiangxi, Shandong, Guangdong and Fujian.
Their promises came after the Central Military Commission, the party-appointed body chaired by President Xi Jinping that exercises control over China’s armed forces, decreed that local governments should not consider veterans’ ages or rank, especially those who served in hardship posts or special assignment, when they resettled in prefectural level cities, which have the best services and amenities, the Daily reported.
“Local governments cannot place additional conditions or set obstacles when handling their resettlement,” the report said.
It said Zhao Kezhi, party chief of Hebei province which practically encircles Beijing and hosts the largest garrisons to protect the capital, promised to make sure the resettlement proceeded smoothly. Other provinces also vowed to cooperate with the CMC.
Xi announced that the PLA would be cut by 300,000 troops shortly before presiding over last September’s grand military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.
The cuts – twice the size of the British armed forces – are scheduled to complete by the of next year, meaning the remaining 242,0000 redundancies will take place over the next 16 months.
But a retired senior colonel in Beijing told the South China Morning Post that resettlement timetable was extremely ambitious and was likely to be postponed due to the difficulties.
“Although the CMC’s order for local governments to cooperate are legally binding, China lacks the extensive veterans’ rights of other countries,” said the veteran, who did not want to be named.
Many of laid-off officers are middle-aged and older, and some have no special skills. They cannot compete for jobs with millions of new university graduates.”
The retired veteran said the CMC was aware of the problem, and that some military specialists were studying proposals on how to overcome them.