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Armies in Beijing stop providing paid services for civilians | Updated: 2017-02-09 10:06

Military forces in Beijing will no longer provide paid services including medical treatment, education, scientific research, warehousing, publishing, and literature and art related services and products to civilians.

The aim is to keep the military focused on their main task of fighting.

The measure is part of a national campaign, proposed by President Xi Jinping back in 2015, to stop all compensable services offered by troops and armed police in the country within three years.

Paid services for civilians have been backed by surplus military assets, and the income has been designed to enrich funds for troops, improve the efficiency of surplus resources, and polish the skills of military professionals.

Economists say at present 90% of patients consulting military hospitals are civilians.

But as business expanded, the armed forces found themselves pouring more and more energy into making money, which led in some cases to corruption and got in the way of regular training.

Gong Fangbin from the National Defense University of People's Liberation Army said the current campaign is aimed at purifying the lives of troops and preventing them from being distracted. Armed forces are born for warfare, he said, and so too much involvement in the social economy will undermine their nature and image.

In addition to distracting energy, operating businesses makes the distribution of benefits uneven and unfair within the military, because basic troops in rural areas may not have the resources to earn extra profits, whereas some urban troops are resourceful and thus have access to more profits, he said.

Military economists say that some military individuals even use the money to fill their own pockets by illegally transferring military assets to certain groups or enterprises.

Gong predicted that many services, especially military hospitals, might eventually be transferred to local governments.

Up to 2016, 40% of paid-service projects have been stopped nationwide. In the phase, policies on the placement and security guarantee of personnel, and legal mechanisms will be introduced.

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