China's National Defense in 2006
The basic tasks of the PLA's political work are as follows: ensuring the success of the reform and opening-up of the country and the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, as well as promoting the socialist modernization; advancing the revolution in military affairs with Chinese features, as well as the revolutionization, modernization and regularization of the PLA; guaranteeing --politically, ideologically and organizationally -- the nature of the people's army under the absolute leadership of the Party; upholding the PLA's socialist ethical standards, the goal of which is to cultivate military personnel with lofty ideals, high moral standards, a wide range of knowledge and a keen sense of discipline; ensuring the PLA's internal unity, unity between the PLA and the government, and unity between the PLA and the people; and ensuring the PLA's combat effectiveness and the accomplishment of the PLA's tasks.
In the long years of fighting revolutionary wars and seeking modernization, a fine tradition of democracy has taken root and a complete democratic system has developed within the PLA. The conference of servicemen's representatives at the levels of the brigade and regiment is part of this democratic system, which ensures the practice of democracy and the right of servicemen to exercise their democratic rights and participate in troop management. The conference of servicemen's representatives is mainly tasked with reviewing the work reports of their commanders, supervising their units' compliance with and implementation of regulations, orders and directives from the above, voicing servicemen's opinions, raising demands on their behalf and monitoring the use of funds in their units. Guided by Party committees and political organs at the same level, units at the levels of brigade and regiment hold annual conferences of servicemen's representatives. The representatives are selected through bottom-up democratic elections from among active servicemen and employees on the PLA payroll. Led by Party branches or grass-roots Party committees and directed by military and political chiefs, the servicemen's committee is an organization through which companies and company-level units practice democracy in political, economic and military affairs, ensure servicemen's democratic rights and conduct servicemen's activities.
The PLA conducts political work in a creative way to raise the overall performance of its officers and men. The PLA educates its officers and men in its historic mission, ideals, beliefs, fighting spirit, and the socialist concept of honor and disgrace, to raise mission awareness, foster revolutionary ideals, strengthen the will to fight, draw a clear line between right and wrong, and arouse enthusiasm for training. The PLA conducts psychological training and studies on psychological operations, and has in place a mechanism involving both political and medical institutions to provide psychological education, catharsis and health service. The CMC and the general headquarters/departments have formulated a series of policies and regulations to strengthen the building of grass-roots units. Most of the commanding organs at and above the regiment level have mechanisms to coordinate grass-roots work. In the course of implementing the Outline for Armed Forces Building at the Grass-Roots Level, a large number of advanced grass-roots units and excellent soldiers have come to the fore.
To ensure the cost-effectiveness of logistical support, the PLA is enhancing the management and reform of logistical support in an effort to build a modern logistics system.
Upgrading logistics management. The PLA is speeding up the formulation of logistical rules, regulations and standards to establish a standardized system covering supply, consumption and management. During the period of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2001-2005) (hereinafter referred to as the Tenth Five-Year Plan), the PLA conducted a comprehensive review of its logistical regulations and standards. Over 200 standards were adopted or revised, and more than 240 regulations were enacted. During the period of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-2010) (hereinafter referred to as the Eleventh Five-Year Plan), the PLA is giving priority to standardizing logistical supply and establishing a mechanism for the dynamic adjustment of supply and support standards. It is strengthening the management of logistics and ensuring the overall sound implementation of the military budget. In addition, it is enforcing financial and economic discipline through strict auditing supervision.
Improving the material life conditions of the officers and men. The PLA has adopted the practice of serving separate portions of food to improve hygienic conditions. Some organic battalions have begun to provide battalion-based food service. Board expenses of enlisted men have been increased substantially since January 1, 2005, and now the food supply for officers and men aims at providing sufficient nutrition rather than just serving enough food. From July 1, 2006, the salaries for service people have been increased by a wide margin. The PLA has issued new types of uniforms to the enlisted and Air Force officers and men, new types of special-purpose fatigue clothing to troops other than those of the Army, and new types of plateau cold-proof uniforms to some troops stationed in Xinjiang and Tibet.
Steadily advancing logistics reform. Adhering to the principles of the incorporation of tri-service components into joint logistical organs, joint management and employment of support entities, and unified organization of supply and support, the PLA is conducting experimental reforms in joint logistics in the Jinan Theatre. This marks an important step towards the goal of building an integrated tri-service logistical support system. It involves comprehensive efforts to expand the reform of the centralized payment system to establish a support mode of fund settlement with single financial accounts as the basis and centraliz ed payment as the main form. The reform of the military medical support system is being smoothly carried out, with priority given to ensuring the medical care of military personnel. Over 70 percent of the PLA's employees are covered by the social medical insurance system. The housing system reform has made progress, and a housing system for military personnel has taken shape which combines military support with social support, government houses with self-owned houses, and supply in kind with supply in money.
In October 2004, the General Staff Headquarters, General Political Department and General Logistics Department jointly issued the Circular on Further Promoting the Reform of Military Materials Procurement under the Corps Level. The PLA has basically established a three-level (logistical organs of the general headquarters/departments, major units, and units) materials procurement and management system and a system of centralized procurement. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the PLA's centralized procurement reached RMB 45 billion, enabling it to save RMB 3.15 billion and spend 7 percent less on average.
With the backing of China's economic development and scientific and technological achievements, the PLA is accelerating its weaponry and equipment modernization drive mainly by relying on its own efforts.
Planning long-term weaponry and equipment development in a scientific way. Based on the military strategic guidelines of the new era and the outline for the building and development of the military, the PLA is making efforts to correctly handle the relationship between the needs of equipment development and the availability of funds. As required by comprehensive integration of the Army, Navy and Air Force, joint operation and systems building, the PLA has conducted studies and feasibility assessments of its weaponry and equipment development strategy, adopted the outline and the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for weaponry and equipment development, and set the direction, goals and priorities of its future weaponry and equipment development.