PLA down­siz­ing con­tin­ues with fire­fight­ers’ trans­fer to non-mil­i­tary depart­ment

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA - By Zhang Han

Chi­nese fire­fight­ers were re­as­signed from the Chi­nese mil­i­tary to the Min­istry of Emer­gency Man­age­ment on Tues­day, which hailed by ex­perts as a move to down­size the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) and strength­en­ing Com­mu­nist Party of China’s lead­er­ship.

China has 170,000 ac­tive fire­fight­ers and an­other 200,000 full-time gov­ern­ment fire­fight­ers, the PLA Daily re­ported.

Most of China’s fire­fight­ers be­long to pub­lic se­cu­rity forces, sup­ple­mented by full-time fire and vol­un­teer fire bri­gades.

The pub­lic se­cu­rity fire­fight­ing force was in­cluded in PLA’s armed po­lice force, but man­aged by the pub­lic se­cu­rity depart­ment, Li Daguang, a pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity of the PLA in Bei­jing, told the Global Times on Tues­day.

The re­as­sign­ment is nec­es­sary for fire­fight­ers to be un­der a uni­fied force, Li said.

“By get­ting rid of con­fu­sion in su­per­vi­sion and man­age­ment, China’s emer­gency res­cue forces will be­come more pro­fes­sional, in­te­grated and cen­tral- ized,” Li said, ad­ding that the sta­bil­ity of the fire brigade that has long plagued lo­cal gov­ern­ments can be greatly im­proved.

Fires in China have claimed an av­er­age of 2,100 lives a year com­pared to 5,000 in the US, said PLA Daily.

The PLA Daily at­tributes the rel­a­tively low rate to the pre­pared­ness of China’s fire­fight­ers.

The with­drawal of civil­ian-ori­ented fire­fight­ing and fron­tier de­fense troops from the Peo­ple’s Armed Po­lice Force was first an­nounced in March.

Armed po­lice forces that pre­vi­ously an­swered to civil­ian-re­lated du­ties, in­clud­ing forestry and hy­dropower ac­tiv­i­ties, were trans­ferred to State in­sti­tu­tions in Au­gust and Septem­ber.

By re­duc­ing the num­ber of non-bat­tle per­son­nel, the PLA would be­come more ca­pa­ble and ef­fi­cient, Li said.

The re­form could sig­nif­i­cantly cor­rect er­rors and high­light the Party’s lead­er­ship over its armed forces, in­clud­ing the armed po­lice, Li noted.

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