After protest, China says will address army veterans’ issues

After protest, China says will address army veterans' issues

BEIJING — China’s defence ministry said Thursday it expects economic growth and a strengthened social security system to solve problems faced by former soldiers, following reports of new street protests by disgruntled veterans who say they’ve been denied their promised retirement benefits.

The remarks came after cellphone video circulated online showing a large group of veterans in military fatigues walking through central Beijing on Wednesday and gathering outside the offices of the ruling Communist Party’s corruption watchdog body.

Ministry spokesman Col. Ren Guoqiang said the government and the party are concerned about veterans’ issues, but didn’t say whether anyone had met with the protesters or whether any new policies were planned to assist them.

“The difficulties that veterans currently encounter will be gradually overcome,” Ren said at a monthly news briefing.

It wasn’t clear what the veterans’ demands were, although many have long complained about pensions, access to health care and assistance in finding new jobs. Banners identified at least some in the group Wednesday as unemployed veterans from the eastern port city of Yancheng. Reports of additional protests in Beijing on Thursday could not immediately be confirmed.

Such protests have broken out around the country for decades, amplifying concerns over labour unrest and threatening to undermine rank-and-file support for Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s campaign to modernize the military by attracting better qualified and more highly motivated soldiers.

The government censors information about the protests and veterans are highly reluctant to discuss their plight with foreign media for fear of being accused of disloyalty.

Despite operating the world’s largest standing army, with 2.3 million personnel, China doesn’t have a central government body such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to handle welfare for former soldiers. Instead, cash-strapped local government offices are responsible for their welfare, and the type of benefits offered vary widely across the country.

Ren said Xi’s plan to reduce the size of the armed forces by 300,000 by the end of the year was proceeding as planned. The downsizing is expected to shift the emphasis away from ground forces and toward the navy, air force and rocket force.

Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Kelowna hit and run caught on camera

A dash-cam caught an image a local resident wants everyone to see

Deaf, senior dog gets home after five days lost in the forest

Willow, a Kelowna dog that went missing five days ago, is home.

5 Kelowna photographers you need to follow on Instagram

Check out this week’s list of great local photographers.

B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

Evacuation orders and alerts issued for North Thompson

Some properties in Electoral Area ‘E’ and ‘J’ are asked to leave immediately

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

MICHAELS: Three hour nightmare on local roads highlights need for change

Bridge travelling folk deserve a decent commute

Writing hits on the pages of the Capital News

This Capital News letter writer has found a recipe to success with Leonard Cohen.

MICHAELS: It’s a different world, enjoy it

The Central Okanagan School District is moving in the right direction with SOGI.

HODGE: Living life and watching hockey tube free again

Charlie Hodge offers his thoughts on recent events once a week in the Capital News.

Suspected scammer attempts to use Black Press newspaper to dupe woman

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley resident received suspicious call

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

Canadian soccer officials talk up World Cup bid at Champions League final

Current bid calls for 2026 World Cup games to be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico

Most Read