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Will the Military Cut Jobs Program?
A recent Apple Daily editorial by Li Ping discussed the rumors that the military might cut its program that provides demobilizing soldiers with civilian jobs, and instead, would issue the soldiers a lump-sum payment. Li reports that rumors have resurfaced indicating that the government might implement a “lump sum payment system” (应金制), rather the continuing the “transfer to civilian job” (转业) system. This would essentially mean that soldiers would receive a one-time compensation payment in cash, and officials would no longer remain responsible for their civilian work arraignments. Li also points out that the system is not unlike the “one-time redundancy payments” (买断工龄) common in the State-Owned Enterprise restructuring(企业改革)era.

Of course, we’ll just have to wait and see before knowing if this system will actually be implemented. However, there have already been reports about demobilized soldiers petitioning Beijing, claiming that the promises made about post-military job placement programs weren’t being fulfilled. If the government does go ahead with some sort of lump-sum compensation system, as Li points out, it could prove to be one of the largest fiascos since SOE restructuring – in which over 30 million employees were laid-off (下岗). Also, as with the restructuring process, in which the vast majority of laid-off people were legally not allowed to take their cases to court or able to fight the corrupt managers and government officials who sold off company assets for dirt cheap prices to enrich themselves so as to become Beverly Hillbilly millionaires (暴发户), the demobilized soldiers will almost certainly be denied their day in court as well. The predictable result will be thousands of soldiers petitioning in Beijing, to little effect. However, unlike other petitioners – like destitute farmers or grieving family members of deceased coal miners – strong, intelligent, and well-trained soldiers will have a larger potential to get their point across.

For the sake of social stability, the government should fulfill its promises to soldiers, and make any changes to the system transparently applicable to new recruits who have not already joined the military.