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PLA Chain of Command Shortened in Emergency Response Plan
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China's armed forces have been told they can bypass a significant section of the chain of command in order to respond faster to emergencies and small-scale military conflicts.

Officers at regimental level have been told they can skip divisional level leaders and report straight to provincial military command or even to military area command under China's first-ever published emergency response plan.

"This decision will improve the effectiveness of our military bodies in facing emergencies involving national sovereignty and the safety of life and property," an officer of the emergency response office said, "the new emergency response plan gives priority to people."

The plan also stipulates that the armed forces should immediately release information on key incidents to the public.

"Releasing timely information to the public can avoid panic due to rumors and irresponsible reporting," he said.

The plan, approved by the Central Military Commission, aims to guide the Chinese People's Liberation Army and armed police in handling emergencies in five areas: small-scale military conflicts; local government assistance in safeguarding social stability; terrorist incidents; disaster and public security emergencies.

Chinese troops frequently help local governments in emergency and rescue operations in natural disasters, but no similar rules and polices have been published before this plan.

"This emergency plan is also in line with the state's general emergency response plan," the official added.

The State Council, or the cabinet, issued a general plan on emergency response at the beginning of the year, aiming to regulate the management and procedures in emergency incidents.

(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2006)

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