Will ‘Mao Zedong’s militia’ be revived? Chinese companies establish military organizations one after another

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FT “Dairy products company establishes Ministry of People’s Armed Forces”
State-owned enterprises have been organized since last year.
Analysis of “internal solidarity through security amid economic recession”

In May last year, the People’s Armed Forces founding ceremony was held at Mengniu Group, China’s state-owned dairy enterprise. The People’s Armed Forces, a Korean reserve force concept, is even appearing in Chinese private companies. WeChat screen capture

Following Chinese state-owned enterprises, private companies are also creating their own military organizations with a similar concept to the Korean reserve force. Some analysts say that the revival of the militia, which flourished during the era of Mao Zedong, is an attempt by China, which is facing negative factors such as the real estate recession, to strengthen its internal solidarity over security issues.

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According to the British Financial Times (FT) on the 20th, Ili, China’s largest dairy company, established the People’s Armed Forces departments (PAFD), an in-house military-related department, in December last year. Since last year, at least 15 state-owned companies have created similar military organizations, but this is the first time a private company has created one. Members of the People’s Armed Forces are civilians who do not have formal military status, but they receive military training and are said to perform tasks such as maintaining social order depending on the situation.

The U.S. CNN broadcast evaluated, “Iri’s People’s Armed Forces are similar to the militia that existed during the reign of Mao Zedong, China’s first president.” At the time, the militia was made up of civilians and had a low-level organization even in rural areas, and was responsible for maintaining order. CNN reported that Mao expanded the organization for the purpose of suppressing those who opposed his policies and also used it for a cult of personality both inside and outside the party.

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In the 1950s, these militias took over their functions from the People’s Armed Forces, a reserve force of the People’s Liberation Army. At one time, the number of members reached 200 million. Since then, Deng Xiaoping has emphasized the practicality of the country as a whole through reform and opening, and has maintained its presence only in local governments and some state-owned enterprises.

It is pointed out that the re-emergence of the People’s Armed Forces, which had lost its presence, is related to anxiety within Chinese society. The Chinese authorities feel that as the real estate recession that has followed the pandemic continues to prolong, they need to strengthen social discipline and at the same time respond in an all-round way to the possibility of overseas disputes.

Timothy Heath, a senior fellow at the Rand Institute, a US think tank, explained to the FT, “Chinese authorities may have felt that there should be a social organization to manage and coordinate in the event of a major national emergency.” Neil Thomas, a researcher at the Asia Society, also told CNN, “The Chinese Communist Party may have judged that a corporate militia commanded by the military would be more effective in suppressing social unrest, such as consumer complaints or employee strikes.”

Source: Donga

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