China warns ‘hostile forces’ trying to undermine military reform
China’s military warned on Friday that “hostile forces” were seeking to spread online rumours about the ongoing reform of the armed forces, which will see 300,000 soldiers laid off, and admitted some of the rumours were having a damaging effect.
Chinese President Xi Jinping unexpectedly announced last September that he would cut troop numbers by 300,000, or some 13 percent of the world’s biggest military, currently 2.3-million strong.
The cuts come at a time of heightened economic uncertainty in China as growth slows and the leadership grapples with painful economic reforms. On Tuesday, hundreds of previously demobilised soldiers protested in Beijing.
The lay-offs are part of broader reforms to modernise the military, moving away from the old Soviet-era command module and putting more emphasis on high-tech weapons such as stealth jets and anti-satellite missiles.
In a commentary, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said rumours about the reforms were flooding social media sites with self-professed experts spreading all sorts baseless stories such as how demobilised soldiers could get reduced benefits.