More mil­i­tary re­wards for or­di­nary soldiers

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

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.


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