Peace Time: China Orders Army to Play By The Rules


March 22, 2006: China has ordered the armed forces to get permission from local government, and abide by environmental rules, when building new facilities, and holding training exercises. This is a major change, for in the past, the armed forces could do whatever it wanted, with no interference from local government authorities. The only one who had any control over these matters was the national government, and in most cases, the national leadership didn't care what the military did as long as it didn't cause a stink they could smell. The Internet and cell phones have changed all that. Now, whenever the military offends a lot of civilians, the words gets around (nationwide) quickly (within hours.) These embarrassing situations (especially when the military seizes land it needs, or causes a mess with pollution, or other bad behavior by the troops) tend to get into Chinese or foreign media, and that does not make the big shots in Beijing happy at all.

So now the rules have changed. Well, now there ARE rules, and the troops don't like it. A few generals will have to be slapped around, and publicly embarrassed, before it all sinks in, and is accepted. There will be other problems as well, as in local officials seeking bribes from military commanders, in order to insure that there are no objections. This can be dangerous, because all those Chinese citizens, equipped with Internet access and cell phones, are watching, and ready to pounce if there is any dirty business (legal or literal).

While these new rules won't instantly cure all the problems with military misbehavior, they will change the way the military operates.


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