Ex-soldiers take part in a protest outside the Bayi Building, a major Chinese military building in Beijing. Thomas Peter / Reuters
Ex-soldiers take part in a protest outside the Bayi Building, a major Chinese military building in Beijing. Thomas Peter / Reuters

China’s troop reduction sparks rare protests

BEIJING // China’s defence ministry vowed on Thursday to improve living standards for military veterans after thousands of disgruntled ex-soldiers gathered outside army offices in Beijing for a rare protest this week.

China has laid off more than a million troops since the 1980s and last year said it will cut 300,000 more from its standing army of more than two million.

Tens of thousands of veterans have staged protests in recent years against officials who they accuse of denying them benefits.

The demonstration in Beijing on Tuesday was unusual for its size and central location.

Reports said that 10,000 ex-soldiers were involved. Pictures posted online showed large crowds wearing army uniforms.

China’s defence ministry confirmed on Thursday that “retired soldiers gathered near the offices of the central military commission to express problems relating to employment and livelihood”.

It added that authorities had issued policies to improve living standards for retired military staff, and that further efforts would be made to “gradually solve the problem”.

Veterans’ protests are one of the biggest threats to social stability in the country, Xue Gangling, dean of the China University of Politics and Law, told media in 2013.

State media said last year that Beijing would launch a new army pension scheme after president Xi Jinping announced the reduction in troop numbers.

It was the latest in a series of giant cuts to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as Beijing seeks to craft a more efficient fighting force.

But the PLA Daily newspaper said at the time that the difficulties of implementing the latest reductions were "unprecedented".

Many laid-off soldiers, with little formal education, have found it difficult to re-adjust to society and find jobs in the civilian economy.

* Agence France-Presse


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The specs: 2018 Nissan Altima

Price, base / as tested: Dh78,000 / Dh97,650

Engine: 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder

Power: 182hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 244Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable tranmission

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.6L / 100km


Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 0 Al Ain 6
Al Ain: Caio (5', 73'), El Shahat (10'), Berg (65'), Khalil (83'), Al Ahbabi (90'+2)

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.


Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Rating: 3/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative