Is the Chinese military starting to transform from an institution to an occupation? An 8 April 2004 announcement to "hire civilians as catering service workers and drivers for some logistics posts", all previously held by soldiers, has been followed up by other changes (a recent AFP announcement, via DefenseNews.com, is not new[s]). A 10 Jan 06 Los Angeles Times article aggregated some of the data points on Chinese transformation:
- Three-day sit-in by 2,000 vets April 2005, largest since 1949
- Since the April 2004 announcement, 9% of the service has been trimmed (200,000)
- The Army's ancillary responsibilities, including planting crops, teaching school and running shops are now in conflict with today's emphasis on technology, professionalism, mobility and rapid response. These duties are not only distracting but demeaning for soldiers.
- New generation brought up in shopping malls and karaoke halls are used to having much more personal choice than their parents, inevitably exerting more pressure for change.
The Western calendar year of 2006 is already shaping up to be a tranformational year for China. The Google deal, resource hunts, American QDR, continued economic expansion, increasing global political power opportunites, etc.