was late afternoon in a second-hand electronics and auto parts market in
Xiasha district, Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, and He Hong
(pseudonym), a shop owner, disenchanted by the days’ slack business,
decided to close his shop early.
The market is shrouded in gloom not just because of the ongoing economic
downturn, but also the fact that the land which the market is built on
belongs to the Chinese military, whose commercial activities are now
undergoing reform. Rumors have been spreading among He and other tenants
that the military might want to end the market’s lease and take the land
For those who are commercially involved with the Chinese military,
worries like this have been on the rise after the Central Military
Commission (CMC) said it in a document in March that plans to gradually
terminate all paid services in the military. The move, part of China’s
ongoing military reform, is expected to take three years to complete.
According to the document, military units will no longer be allowed to
launch new commercial programs or sign new contracts regarding paid
services, and expired contracts may not be extended, the Xinhua News
Agency reported. This is seen by many as an effort to modernize China’s
armed forces and fight against military corruption.
"This is an important decision made by the CPC Central Committee, the
CMC and President Xi Jinping, and it will help to purify the troops’
morale, keep the true quality and nature of the military and also focus
more on core military capacity building," said Yang Yujun, spokesperson
of China’s Ministry of Defense, in a press conference in March.
An officer from the Beijing Military Region, who declined to be named,
told the Phoenix Weekly that this is expected to be the toughest ban on
the military’s commercial dealings to date. "The duty of the army is
getting ready for wars. How can they battle if they are shooting on the
training ground, and at the same time calculating how much money they
can make from a contract they just signed?" he said.