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Updated Militia Forces Set for Supporting Role
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As the earliest contributors to the revolution, the country's militia boast a history that is even longer than that of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which turned 80 yesterday.


But thanks to some recent adjustments, what was old is new again.


The militia have been upgraded from a simple reserve force for the army to backups for all three services. The change is part of the PLA's transition from a quantity-based, labor-intensive model to a technology-intensive one based on quality and efficiency.


The new Outline of Militia Military Training and Evaluation, released last month, addressed for the first time training courses on anti-terrorism, disaster relief, medical aid, nuclear and biochemical rescue and coping with public emergencies.


The outline is suited to a new generation of militia, with units in the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Force, as well as more than 100 professional divisions, including ground-to-air and ground-to-ground missiles, engineering, anti-chemical protection and communications.


Similarly, the focus of building the modern militia has shifted from the countryside to cities, from general districts to regions and from semi-professional forces to professional soldiers.


These transitions indicate that the country's militia have embarked on a whole new level of development in terms of standardization and institutionalization.


The militia have always been seen as a vital progressive force, particularly since the past century.


They not only developed hand-in-hand with the Chinese Communist Party, but also formed its military nucleus in the early 1920s.


During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), militia troops played heroic roles in battling the invaders, using a variety of indigenous tactics such as tunnel warfare, land mine warfare and sparrow warfare.


Later on, they were at the core of an 8.8 million-strong supporting force that exhausted the Nationalist troops in the historic Three Campaigns in the Liberation War (1946-49) and brought about the founding of the People's Republic.


Their ranks gradually grew to as many as 35 million in response to the heightened global tensions in the 1960s and early 1970s.


Since then, the country's militia have experienced unprecedented transitions and various improvements, but the People's War philosophy and the principle of relying on the masses remain primary guiding thoughts.


(China Daily August 2, 2007)

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