CHINA MIL­I­TARY UN­REST

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s re­cent com­ments about U.S.-China re­la­tions are not the only worry fac­ing China’s Com­mu­nist rulers. Lead­ers in Bei­jing are in­creas­ingly wor­ried about grow­ing mil­i­tary un­rest from tens of thou­sands of dis­grun­tled for­mer soldiers who can’t find work, ac­cord­ing to Pen­tagon of­fi­cials.

Bei­jing crit­i­cized Mr. Trump for re­marks Sun­day ques­tion­ing China’s pol­icy of hav­ing sovereignty over Tai­wan.

The anger in the ranks of ousted Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army soldiers sur­faced in a two re­cent protest demon­stra­tions by tens of thou­sands of for­mer mil­i­tary per­son­nel who gath­ered near the Central Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion (CMC) head­quar­ters in Bei­jing in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

“There are real se­cu­rity con­cerns in Bei­jing about these de­mo­bi­lized soldiers,” said a U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial. “They are kind of be­ing pushed over the edge by the gov­ern­ment.”

The first protest in­volved be­tween 20,000 and 30,000 for­mer soldiers on Oct. 11 at the CMC head­quar­ters — the ul­ti­mate power cen­ter in China whose chair­man is Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

The mil­i­tary pro­test­ers in­cluded older vet­er­ans and re­cently de­mo­bi­lized troops. They came from a dozen ci­ties around the coun­try and were de­mand­ing the CMC pro­vide promised pen­sion, med­i­cal and so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits.

A sec­ond protest took place Nov. 1 but de­tails of the num­ber of pro­test­ers could not be learned. The Novem­ber protest re­ceived far less news cov­er­age as Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties took steps to pre­vent re­port­ing, both in China and abroad.

The vet­er­ans’ anger high­lights what U.S. in­tel­li­gence has es­ti­mated is one of China’s most po­lit­i­cally dan­ger­ous protest move­ments. The for­mer soldiers have been mis­treated by the gov­ern­ment and more are be­ing de­mo­bi­lized as part of plans to stream­line the Chi­nese mil­i­tary.

The dis­grun­tled soldiers rep­re­sent a new kind of op­po­si­tion to the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party and the party-con­trolled Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army.

Chi­nese in­ter­nal se­cu­rity troops and po­lice were called out dur­ing the protests, and po­lice tried to pre­vent news re­porters from cov­er­ing the protests. Prior to the Novem­ber demon­stra­tion, bar­ri­cades were erected near the CMC to keep pro­test­ers away from the mil­i­tary head­quar­ters, Ra­dio Free Asia re­ported from Bei­jing.

“I signed up to the army in 1976 in Bei­jing, and was de­mo­bi­lized in 1988,” said one vet­eran who iden­ti­fied him­self only as Gao. “It wasn’t too bad to start with, but then they started lay­ing peo­ple off in the fac­to­ries, and we were just given [$58] and told to leave. That

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