China: September 13, 1999

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Taiwan received 30 more US M-60A3 tanks. These are the latest model of the M-60, with thermal imaging fire control. This device made the few M-60's used in the Gulf war as devastating to Iraqi armor as the more modern M-1 tanks. Chinese tanks are of the same general quality as those of the Iraqi army. China has executed a general and a colonel for selling military secrets to Taiwan. China has several problems with its officer corps. In 1998, the army was ordered to divest itself of thousands of business enterprises and concentrate on military matters. The armed forces had been very successful running   businesses, not least because of the clout the military had in forcing civilian enterprises to give the military favorable terms. It had long been customary for the military to run non-military enterprises. When China was strictly communist, the military grew much of its own food and owned factories that made equipment and weapons. When China's economy was allowed to pursue a free market policy, the army enterprises were quick to take advantage of it. There had always been a certain amount of economic corruption in the military enterprises, but once they were working in a market economy, many officers saw their chance to get rich, and did so. Military readiness suffered. The officer corps did not react enthusiastically to the "get out of business" order and many of the most able officers have left military service as a result. No great loss, as these were the officers who were spending the least amount of time on military affairs. But many of the officers that remained in uniform are not happy with their reduced economic prospects. Morale is low and shooting too senior officers for spying is meant as a lesson to shape up or suffer a worse fate than a shrunken net worth.

 

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