Cuts to the People's Liberation Army aimed at trimming 200,000 troops from its ranks will begin next month, according to an official report. The November date for the start of the downsizing was released during a meeting in Beijing of high-level officials from the PLA's general staff headquarters, general political department and general armament department, Xinhua said. During the meeting, the military units affected by the cuts were ordered to ensure arrangements had been made to provide financial and job placement help for the 42,000 soldiers who will be demobilised this year alone. Jiang Zemin, chairman of the Central Military Commission, said last month that 200,000 personnel would be cut from the 2.5 million-strong military by 2005. Mr Jiang was quoted as saying the cuts would speed up information technology development for the military. Even after the cuts, the PLA will still rank first in the world in terms of soldier numbers.