Thursday, October 23, 2014

Increased attention to rule of law proposed for PLA

Rule of law will now become a major focus for the People's Liberation Army. According to this Xinhua report:
The PLA has had a tradition of enforcing strict discipline during its 87 years of history, but it is far from achieving comprehensive rule of law, said Professor Wang Fa'an of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences.
The PLA has not shaken off the shadows of the "rule of man," which was deeply rooted in China's past feudal rule for thousands of years, professor Wang said.
The Chinese army arose and evolved from isolated revolutionary bases scattered in the country's vast rural areas, and its management relied heavily on commanders' experience and will.
Late Chairman Mao Zedong was determined to standardize the army and instill rule of law after the founding of New China in 1949, but efforts were hindered by political movements, including the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
The PLA's modernization drive calls for the transition from the "rule of man" toward the "rule of law," but it is no easy task, Wang said.
Wang pointed out some problems, such as soldiers and officers who would rather obey commanders' orders than military laws and rules, and others who don't know how to perform duties without instructions from superiors. Servicemen's weak legal awareness also hinders rule of law in military operations, said Wang.
Tuesday's PLA Daily article by Major General Pan Liangshi, commander of the PLA Beijing Garrison Command, said existing military laws are incomplete and inconsistent, mainly covering the army's daily routine but lacking provisions for operational combat, which often causes confusion in joint exercises.
Pan suggested every aspect of the military, including training, battle and command, be done in accordance with rule of law, and commanders should have a legal mind.
Facing a complicated and changing security situation, the PLA shoulders heavy tasks in safeguarding state sovereignty, security and development interests, according to the CMC bureau of legislative affairs, adding the PLA should expand its legal system to cover military actions at sea, in outer space and cyberspace.
Wang said the military's legal system has been steadily improved. The top legislature revised the Military Service Law in 2011 for the third time. The PLA introduced a 17-article auditing regulation to step up the fight against corruption in the military in July.
The lack of external inspection and supervision of the military gives rise to problems such as squandering and graft, he said, adding that loopholes in the military's legal system have become lucrative opportunities for personal gain.
The PLA has stepped up oversight of its officials since last year, part of the CPC's extensive campaign to root out extravagance and corruption. Not only "tigers" like Gu Junshan, a former senior military logistics officer, and Xu Caihou, former CMC vice chairman, are under investigation, but military officers' daily habits like gift giving, vehicles and travel are also subject to close scrutiny.
According to the PLA auditing regulation, all malpractice uncovered by the PLA auditing office will be transferred to military law enforcers.
Presumably we will learn more in coming months about Chinese military justice reforms. Perhaps even some trials will be covered by the news media. 

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