China has started its final efforts to end all military-provided paid public services, a move observers said could be a response to a recent medical scandal involving a military hospital.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force convened a meeting on Saturday in Tianjin to outline a pilot mission to completely stop their paid public services, the PLA Daily reported Sunday.
The meeting indicates that China's drive to halt the military's provision of paid services has entered a crucial stage in which substantive matters can be solved, Zhao Keshi, head of the Logistical Support Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC), said in an address at the conference.
The pilot mission includes key projects in areas such as unoccupied real estate leasing, healthcare, press and publications and travel accommodations. It will be carried out in seven major institutions and 17 subsidiary institutions, which have not yet been specified, the PLA Daily said.
"Major institutions in the military usually refer to those higher than the division level, including military academies like the PLA's National Defense University and some departments and institutions directly under the CMC, like the Academy of Military Science," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.
Song noted that the affected subsidiary institutions could be hospitals run by the military, such as the Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps.
That hospital recently came under fire for contracting out services at its cancer clinic to a private owner that allegedly was involved in a crooked promotion through online paid listings. In response to scrutiny, the hospital suspended its external services on Wednesday.
"Such negative news [about a military hospital] must have to some extent accelerated efforts to stop paid services in the military," Song said, adding that the scandal might also contribute to a firm resolution to push intensified measures forward.
The drive will affect the interests of some institutions despite being beneficial to the military in the long run, Song noted, warning, "There will be personnel cuts in the military's paid services."
Some employees might have to leave the military, while others might keep their jobs in for-profit institutions that will be separated from the military, and still others might be transitioned to new jobs in the military, said Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert.