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PLA tightens rules for its personnel
reprinting date: 10-14-2015

(From:China Daily)
Members may join registered clubs only; are banned from foreign NGOs

Chinese military personnel may join only registered clubs, and are banned from participation in nongovernmental organizations based overseas unless assigned to do so, according to a recent management rule adopted by the People's Liberation Army.

Organizations for members of the military are required to be registered, but unregistered groups have cropped up. When forced to register, many of those groups are unlikely to be approved and will be broken up, observers say.

The crackdown on illegal groups is part of an effort to curb corruption, as the groups could be used as channels for bribing military officers. Selling paintings or calligraphy pieces through the groups is a typical way of accepting bribes, according to knowledgeable sources in the military who asked not to be named.

A new management rule on societies and associations in the military came into force last month. It lays out qualification standards for various groups and specifies punishments for violators.

In banning participation in NGOs, the rule underscores that the management of military personnel must be centralized and consistent.

If the military finds it necessary for personnel to participate in the activities of foreign NGOs, an approval procedure must be carried out as specified by the rule.

An official in charge of a working group on the educational and correctional affairs of the PLA said the sweeping reform targets groups such as research clubs, veteran societies, alumni associations and painting and calligraphy societies that are not properly registered with civil affairs departments.

For example, the Painting and Calligraphy Institute of Generals and the Comrades-in-Arms Society are on the cleanup list, one military source said.

The General Political Department of the PLA issued a notice recently asking military personnel to quit organizations, including NGOs, if their participation had not been approved by the authorities. It also said unregistered military organizations should cease operations until they get legitimate status.

The rule listed different requirements for personnel in the combat units and people in other professional positions. The items affecting retired military staff are different from the ones for personnel currently in service.

Gong Fangbin, a professor of political science at National Defense University, said the government is working on a mechanism to organize various organizations.

"We need to look at the growth of organizations positively," Gong said.

He said the creation of societies and associations for military personnel should be in accordance with the law, and the groups are required to play a positive role.

"In addition, the groups should not go beyond the limits of the roles that were approved when they were set up," Gong said.