More military rewards for ordinary soldiers
Aug 1 is the foundation day of the People’s Liberation Army, as well as the day when the newRegulation on Rewarding and Commendation of the Army comes into effect. As the PLA’s first special code on rewards and commendations, the regulation has become the topic of discussion both at home and abroad.
The implementation of the regulation shows the PLA leadership is paying special attention to rewards and citations for military personnel. Honor, which includes awards and citations, is something all military personnel cherish and should strive to achieve, while an effective system is needed to ensure that deserving people get it.
It is especially important to cultivate military personnel’s sense of honor and dedication at a time when China is facing a complicated security situation, with its maritime rights being violated by certain countries.
It is common practice among armed forces across the world, especially in developed countries, to regulate the reward the commendation mechanism through written documents. The United States, for example, has codes of conduct for the military’s rank and file, as well as detailed honor codes for military academies.
The Chinese army, too, over its 87-year history, has established an award and citation system, and bestowed innumerable medals on military heroes. In the last fewyears, however, some corrupt military officers have manipulated the rules, forcing many military personnel to lose trust in the citation and reward system. This has to be corrected, lest it becomes disastrous for the military.
This is exactly what the newregulation is aimed at doing: it will correct the wrongdoings and plug the loopholes that some corrupt officers have used to bend the rules.
One striking feature of the newregulation is that it guarantees more awards and citations for lower-ranking military units, and fewer for highranking officers. In other words, the chances of an ordinary soldier getting a reward or winning a citation for his efforts will now be higher.
This is a welcome move, because despite being the pillars of national security, ordinary soldiers have to often compromise with their poor living conditions— the ones who guard the nation’s frontiers do not have the economic strength to guard against material trouble at home. By granting them more chances of winning rewards, the newregulation will hopefully boost their sense of honor and loyalty.
The regulation also separates citations from material rewards, which is the system most of the militaries across the world follow. China embarked on market reforms in the late 1970s, following which the Chinese military tended to connect honor with material bonus to the rank and file. Both are necessary, but confusing or mixing the two could be dangerous, because once military personnel start equaling award with material gain they will lose their true sense of honor.
Since previous attempts to correct the situation proved ineffective, the newregulation specifies that all titles and awards should be devoid of monetary bonus. This move will help military personnel to reestablish their sense of honor. This does not mean that military personnel will no longer get monetary bonus; this only means that awards and citations will be separated from rewards.
Another striking feature of the new regulation is that it puts a cap on the total amount for rewards. Normally, the more responsibilities a military shoulders, the more rewards it will offer, especially at the higher levels. But when too many military personnel get high-level rewards, how can they cherish their medals and honors?
Besides, the large number of rewards for military officers has resulted in undeserving people getting them, belittling the meaning and value of such rewards. The newregulation is expected to raise the worth of medals and rewards by controlling their numbers and introducing strict procedures of bestowing them.
The Chinese army has many glorious achievements in its 87 years of existence, which would not have been possible without military personnel having the sense of honor. The new regulation will help cultivate the sense of honor among PLA personnel. And the military will perform its duties with greater dedication and commitment, and defend the country’s borders with greater valor once the regulation is implemented. The authors are professors at PLA International Relations University in Nanjing.