Sunday, September 13, 2015

Freedom of association and the PLA

With the worldwide focus on China's military parade in early September, few, if any, outside China noticed that the PLA issued new regulations restricting current and retired military personnel's ability to join societies and associations.  The regulations are in sharp contrast to developments in Europe, described elsewhere on this blog, in these posts, where military associations are accepted. The timing of the regulations may be linked to the large scale troop reductions announced in early September as well as the anti-corruption drive within the PLA.

The regulations, which replace ones promulgated in the 1990s, were issued by the General Political Department, under the Central Military Commission. As usual with Chinese military legislation, the full text was not released--just a summary on the Ministry of Defense's website and elsewhere. Among the points set out in the summary:

1.  Eligibility to take a leading role in a society or association

Military personnel in general should not take a leading role in a society or association.  If they do, it should not be in more than one, and it should be as arranged by their (Party) organization; retirees must wait two years after they retire, but may not do so after age 70, and only for one term. Only if a person is retired from a role in the arts may he take a leading role in an arts association. [This author suspects this is linked to the practice of corruption through selling calligraphy or other art.] Military personnel must not be the legal representative (responsible official) of a civilian association (i.e., one not under military auspices).

2. Approval required to participate in societies

Active duty and retired officers may participate in societies only with approval. The number of senior officers that can participate in a single society should be limited. Military personnel must not participate in any society or association without approval.

3. Establishing societies within the military

The new regulations establish strict controls for establishing societies, that involve justifying why establishing a society is needed. These societies may not have more than five branches of more than 200 individual members (or 20 entities).

4. Limiting societies established by retired military personnel

Retired military personnel in general may not establish a society that is under civilian auspices. The report noted that the number of societies established by retired military personnel has been on the rise in recent years, most positive, but others not.  The society must be linked to the nature of the retirees work and cleared by the military.  This appears to be an attempt to reduce or prevent the establishment of retired veterans associations and think tanks by retired PLA officers and limit their activities (this recent academic article  discusses protests by retired PLA officers).

If any reader has further information on these regulations, please use the comment function! [Real names only, please.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).