China's military veterans ministry opens after pension protests
Catherine WongSouth China Morning Post
Chinaâs Ministry of Veterans Affairs opened for business on Monday as Beijing seeks to better manage the welfare of the countryâs 57 million former military personnel following a number of big protests over their retirement benefits.
The government is cutting the size of the armed forces by 300,000 to help build a leaner and more efficient fighting force, but this has triggered concerns over the futures of former military personnel.
Chinese PLA veteransâ protests for pensions pose test for President Xi Jinpingâs modernisation plans
Hundreds of veterans staged two days of demonstrations in February last year outside the Beijing headquarters of the partyâs anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, demanding unpaid retirement benefits.
The protest followed an even bigger demonstration in October 2016 that saw thousands of veterans stage a quiet sit-in outside the commissionâs headquarters.
It was said to be the biggest protest by military veterans since the founding of the Peopleâs Republic in 1949.
The demonstrators included veterans who fought against Vietnam in 1979, Chinaâs last major foreign military engagement.
The new agency was formed as part of a broad government restructuring announced during the countryâs annual parliamentary meetings last month.
It is aimed at setting up a centralised system to formulate policies and regulations to care for veterans, including handling their pensions and retirement be nefits.
It is also tasked with helping former soldiers find new jobs and providing them with training. Other duties include tending military memorials and graves.
The duties were previously handled by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Central Military Commission.
Why former Chinese soldiers are sceptical about Xi Jinpingâs promise of better treatment
The new body will be led by Sun Shaocheng, who was director of the resettlement department under the civil affairs ministry from 2001 to 2009.
Government statistics put the number of retired military personnel at 57 million.
This article Chinaâs military veterans ministry opens after pension protests first appeared on South China Morning Post
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