China's National Defense in 2008

X. The Armed Forces and the People

The Chinese armed forces belong to the people. As stipulated by the Constitution and laws, it is an important task for the armed forces to take part in national development and disaster relief. Supporting the military and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and revolutionary martyrs, and supporting the government and cherishing the people (the "Two Supports") constitute the political basis for strengthening the buildup of national defense and the armed forces.

Participating in Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief Operations

The PLA, PAPF and the militia are the shock force in emergency rescue and disaster relief operations. Their main tasks are to rescue and evacuate disaster victims and people in danger; ensure the security of important facilities and areas; rescue and transport important materials and goods; participate in specialized operations such as rush repairs of roads, bridges and tunnels, maritime search and rescue, NBC rescue operations, epidemic control, and medical aid; eliminate or control other major dangers and disasters; and assist local governments in post-disaster reconstruction if necessary. In recent years the PLA has formed 19 units specialized in flood control and emergency rescue operations.

In June 2005 the State Council and the CMC published the Regulations on the Participation of the People's Liberation Army in Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief. According to the regulations, if the PLA is needed in emergency rescue and disaster relief operations organized by the State Council, the department of the State Council in charge of the operations may file a request to the General Staff Headquarters. If the PLA is needed in such operations organized by the people's governments at or above the county level, the latter may file a request via local military organs at the corresponding level. However, in case of emergency the local people's governments may directly request PLA units stationed in the area to provide assistance, and the latter must take immediate action and simultaneously report to the higher authorities, according to the regulations. Upon detecting any hazard or disaster, local PLA units must also take immediate action and simultaneously report to the higher authorities. PLA units come under the unified leadership of the people's government when participating in local emergency rescue and disaster relief operations. Their specific tasks are assigned by the headquarters for the operations, while their actions are directed through the military chain of command. In November 2006 the CMC approved and issued the Master Scenario for Emergency Response.

In the past two years the PLA and the PAPF have dispatched a total of 600,000 troops/time, employed 630,000 vehicles (or machines)/time of various types, flown over 6,500 sorties/time (including the use of helicopters), mobilized 1.39 million militiamen and reservists/time, participated in over 130 disaster relief operations in cases of floods, earthquakes, snowstorms, typhoons and fires, and rescued or evacuated a total of 10 million people.

In January 2008 large areas of southern China were stricken by a savage spell of freezing weather, sleet and snowstorms. The PLA and the PAPF sent 224,000 troops and 1.036 million militiamen and reservists, and flew 226 sorties/time (using military transport aircraft and helicopters) to undertake urgent, difficult, dangerous and heavy tasks, such as clearing major lines of communication, rescuing victims and restoring power supply.

On May 12, 2008 an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale rocked Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province. In response, the PLA and the PAPF deployed 146,000 troops, mobilized 75,000 militiamen and reservists, flew over 4,700 sorties/time (including the use of helicopters) and employed 533,000 vehicles/time in the relief effort. They rescued 3,338 survivors, evacuated 1.4 million local residents, and transported, airlifted and air-dropped 1.574 million tons of relief materials. They sent 210 teams of medical workers, psychotherapists, and sanitation and epidemic prevention specialists, and treated 1.367 million injured people. The troops strictly observed discipline, and kept detailed records of hundreds of millions of yuan in cash and large quantities of valuables recovered from the debris, all of which was handed over to the owners or relevant departments of local governments.

Participating in Olympic Security Work and Supporting the Preparations for the Olympics

At the request of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, the PLA and the PAPF actively participated in Olympic security work, and supported preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics, making important contributions to the success of the events.

In security work for the Olympics, the main responsibilities of the PLA were to ensure the air security of venues in and outside Beijing and the maritime security of Olympic venues in coastal and neighboring areas; take part in the handling of terrorist incidents such as NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) terrorist attacks and explosions; provide intelligence support; organize emergency rescue, medical aid and helicopter transportation; and strengthen border administration and control during the Olympics. The PLA contributed 46,000 troops, 98 fixed-wing aircraft, 60 helicopters, 63 ships, and some ground-to-air missiles, and radar, chemical defense and engineering support equipment. The PAPF was mainly responsible for ensuring the security of the torch relay; guarding Olympic venues, VIP residences and relevant airports; carrying out guard duties for the opening and closing ceremonies, the activities of important foreign guests in China and major sports events; protecting water, power, oil and gas supply facilities and communication hubs closely related to the Olympics as well as the launching sites of rockets used for artificial rainfall control in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei; acting in collaboration with public security organs to set up checkpoints in the neighborhood of Olympic venues and on major roads in the vicinity of Beijing, and to perform armed patrols in important public places in cities hosting or co-hosting the Olympics; conducting security checks at Olympic venues; and executing counter-terrorism, anti-hijacking and contingency response operations. The PAPF contributed 85,000 troops to Olympic security work, appropriately handled nearly 300 incidents which might have endangered guarded targets, and confiscated over 9,000 prohibited items and over 140,000 limited items.

To support the preparations for the Olympics, the PLA and the PAPF contributed over 14,000 professional and amateur performers to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics. Over 6,900 volunteers from the PLA and the PAPF undertook 84 kinds of support tasks, including transport support, flag raising at medal presentation ceremonies, medical aid and various services at Olympic venues. PLA and PAPF units stationed in Beijing mobilized 670,000 troops/time to take part in the construction of 36 key Olympic projects, such as the Aviation Corridor of the Beijing Capital International Airport and the National Olympic Forest Park.

Participating in and Supporting National Construction

Under the unified arrangement of the Central People's Government and local people's governments at all levels, the PLA and the PAPF actively participate in all aspects of national construction. In the past two years they have put over 14 million workdays and one million vehicles (or machines)/time into this endeavor.

Providing aid for construction of infrastructure and ecological projects. The PLA and the PAPF have supported over 200 key construction projects for energy, transportation, hydropower and communications. They have taken part in over 170 projects for the protection of the ecological environment at such places as the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River and sources of sandstorms affecting Beijing and Tianjin. They have afforested three million mu (one mu is about 700 sq m) of barren hills, wasteland and desolate beaches, and provided aerial protection and maintenance for 24 million mu of forests.

Participating in the building of a new countryside. The PLA and the PAPF provide support for the construction of irrigation and water-conservancy works and rural infrastructure. They have built or repaired over 2,100 roads in poverty-stricken rural areas, and completed over 90,000 small construction projects such as rural hydropower projects, drinking water projects for both people and livestock, and projects for the improvement of small river valley areas. They have also set up or consolidated 25,000 places of contact for poverty reduction, and helped over 80,000 households out of poverty.

Supporting scientific and technological, educational, cultural and health undertakings. The PLA and the PAPF have helped to train nearly 10,000 people in various skills, and set up 240 science and technology demonstration centers. They have built over 200 primary and secondary schools, and helped 240,000 poor students complete their schooling. They have established long-term assistance relations with 470 county or township hospitals in poverty-stricken areas, and dispatched 13,000 medical teams offering free medical consultation and treatment in 41 million cases.

Supporting the economic and social development of areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. The PLA and the PAPF have helped to build or enlarge three airports, five power stations and 12 water conservancy facilities; repair over 900 km of highways; dig 300 wells; and build a total of 6,000 small rainwater cellars, small power stations, solar energy installations and TV transmission facilities.

Supporting National Defense and Armed Forces Modernization

Governments at all levels put great importance on providing support for the modernization of the armed forces in science and technology, information, human resources, education and culture. Local governments and military units jointly organize meetings on military issues, work concerning the "Two Supports" and informal discussions, in order to help the units overcome difficulties in military training, infrastructure building and the maintenance of servicemen's rights and interests. When the units engage in major tasks such as training exercises, emergency rescue and disaster relief, the local governments and people will surmount all difficulties and provide support for their assembly, movement, and rescue and relief efforts. Conducting widespread activities to support the armed forces in science and technology, and education and culture, local governments and people all over the country have set up over 2,000 centers of science and technology, helped to train people on 100,000 occasions in various skills and donated20 million books. Governments at all levels make proper arrangements for the resettlement of servicemen discharged form active service, their dependents, retirees and civilians working in the armed forces, and take good care of those entitled to compensation and preferential treatment. In the past two years, governments at all levels have made over 500 relevant national and local policies and regulations, and resettled over 100,000 officers transferred to civilian work, over 500,000 demobilized enlisted men, and over 60,000 retired officers and civilians working in the armed forces.

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