Morale: China Bans Booze In The Afternoon


August 14,2008:  The Chinese Air Force now prohibits its troops from drinking alcohol at lunch. While drunken pilots have not been a big problem, there have been growing incidents of sloppy work, and sloppy driving, in the afternoon. Blame it all on growing affluence. Not only have officers and NCOs received several raises in the past few years, but some of the more technically adept officers and troops hold down part-time jobs on the side. Thus there is plenty of money available to buy a few drinks at lunch, and then climb into your own recently purchased automobile and drive off. Even sober, Chinese drivers tend to be reckless and unpredictable. The roads in rural areas, where air bases tend to be located, are often crude or poorly maintained. Facing all these obstacles is a lot safer, if more nerve-wracking, when done sober.

Another target of this new rule are corrupt officers, who get free meals, gifts and cash to make sure the right people get military contracts. Corruption in the military is an ancient problem in China, and even the communists were not able to eliminate it. The air force has been a particular victim, because of all the procurement money they have to play with.

Senior air force commanders are under a lot of pressure to reduce the corruption, and officers who are buzzed in the afternoon seems like a good place to start. Sentries and military police are being equipped with digital breathalyzer devices, and orders to use them. That may be difficult, as guilty officers will attempt to use intimidation or a bribe if caught with alcohol on the breath.


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