A dog tries to hold onto its trainer who was retiring from the police dog squad at the Armed Police Chongqing Corps in September. (Photo: China Daily/ Zhang Chunhua)
Expert says reform will pave way for 300,000 troop cut scheduled for completion in 2017
China will continue to improve the living standard of military personnel and veterans by further raising their income and reforming the pension system for retirees, experts said.
"The military increased our vocational allowance around July and the basic salary is expected to be raised before the end of this year," a human resources management researcher at a People's Liberation Army institute who wished to be named as Wang said on Thursday.
"Once the basic salary is increased, those who will retire from the service will receive a higher pension because the pension level is partly decided by their salary in the military," he explained.
The PLA is also considering the establishment of an independent body responsible for veteran affairs, he said. Many PLA researchers have been calling for such an organization for a long time, he added.
"In the past, the veterans' interests and rights were somewhat ignored by some local governments but then the central government came to realize that problem and began to take action to resolve veterans' difficulties," Wang said. Improvement to retirees' treatment will also help facilitate the troop cut recently announced by President Xi Jinping, he said.
The State Council and the Central Military Commission said on Wednesday that they have approved a plan to improve the veteran pension system. The plan, jointly made by several central government departments and military authorities, stipulates that veterans will be retroactively eligible for a basic pension allowance and occupational pension allowance from Oct 1, 2014, both of which will be subsidized by the central government.
An unidentified official with the PLA General Logistics Department told PLA Daily that the improved veteran pension system will be conducive to ensuring veterans' livelihoods, improving military job competitiveness, motivating military personnel and encouraging more young people to join the military.
The pension amendment is the latest in a string of policies to safeguard soldiers' interests. In July, the State Council and Central Military Commission published a policy that encourages commercial insurance providers to provide services to PLA members.
President Xi Jinping announced a 300,000 reduction to the country's standing troops during the military parade in Beijing on Sept 3.
The cuts - which will mainly target troops equipped with outdated armaments, administrative staff and non-combatant personnel - will be accomplished by the end of 2017, Yang Yujun, Defense Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference following the parade.
At 2.3 million, China now has the world's largest active-duty military, including an 850,000-strong ground force, according to a 2013 government paper.
Gong Fangbin, a political education researcher at PLA National Defense University, told Beijing Times that the improved pension package will relieve concerns of those who will be cut from the military thus helping pave the way for the troop cut.