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Soldiers punished for breaking alcohol ban

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-15 07:26

The People's Liberation Army Air Force has punished more than 100 of its members for violating an alcohol ban or failing to prevent subordinates from drinking, Chinese media has reported.

Since 2014, 15 Air Force members who drank at their workplaces or during work hours, and 87 others who failed to make sure their subordinates followed the ban, have been punished, according to a report by People's Daily.

The report said the punishments included demotion, disqualification from promotion and administrative warnings. It also said that many restaurants near military installations in Beijing noticed customers from the PLA had no longer been ordering alcohol.

Other military units, such as the counter-chemical regiment of the 39th Group Army, installed alcohol detectors at every entrance to its office compound, according to the newspaper.

The Central Military Commission issued an alcohol ban in December 2012, one month after Xi Jinping became top leader. Since then, alcoholic drinks have gradually retreated from dinners attended by military members.

Several officers said that they welcome the ban because it "saves" them from drinking baijiu, a strong Chinese liquor that was popular within the Chinese military for a long time for maintaining or improving personal relations.

"We had to drink a lot in the past when there were visitors or guests. My superior officers and I didn't want to drink too much, and I believe our guests didn't want to drink too much either, but drinking baijiu was a kind of ritual at banquets to show our hospitality," said a Navy officer who wished not to be named. "Now we are free of liquor. My wife and my daughter are the biggest supporters of the no-alcohol policy."

A technician with the PLA Ground Force, who wished to be identified as Luo, said his regiment spent a lot of money on baijiu before the ban was introduced.

"At first, I didn't take it very seriously, but I gradually came to realize that this time we would really say goodbye to alcohol after some officers at my unit were punished for breaking the rules," Luo said.

In 2015, Major General Zhang Yan, who was commander of the 26th Group Army at that time, was deprived of his post after one of his former subordinates died after a drinking banquet with Zhang at the army's headquarters.

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