China passes law to provide more support for former military personnel
- Legislation sets out rules on living allowances, jobs, vocational training, educational opportunities and health care services for veterans
- Being in the military should be seen as ‘a profession respected by the whole of society’, says chairman of the NPC, which approved the new law
Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC, was quoted as saying that efforts should be made to publicise the new law.
“[We should] make the military a profession to be respected by the whole of society, and build the foundation for strengthening the army,” he said.
Under the new law, businesses that employ former soldiers will be given tax breaks, while local governments will be responsible for providing job training to veterans so they can find alternative employment and support themselves.
According to official figures, China has about 57 million veterans and the number is set to grow as military leaders seek to transform the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a modern fighting force through streamlining and the adoption of new technologies.
But the PLA is also struggling to attract young, well-educated recruits, who have more career options than their predecessors.
Qin Qianhong, a political scientist and law professor at Wuhan University, said Beijing needed to do more to ensure that the military path remained an attractive career option for young people.
“Unlike in the past, when military service was widely considered an honourable and preferred career, young Chinese now have many options,” he said.
“This law is also an attempt to address the uncertainty for some people who may be worried about life after [military] service as it spells out how the soldiers will be taken care of by society after they leave,” he said.
A retired officer who asked not to be named said veterans had been lobbying for the new legislation for many years and hoped it would be implemented despite China’s slowing economic growth and rising competition for jobs.
“Many of our comrades are happy that the law is now passed but we are concerned about its implementation,” the veteran of the Sino-Vietnamese war said.
“We are worried if there will be enough jobs for us because we are getting old and many of us have health and family problems,” he said.