China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has implemented an order for personnel to return their new style uniforms before demobilization from this month.
A PLA source said the move was made to prevent abuse of military dress, according to a recent military regulation on demobilization. It was also to prevent the uniforms from entering the black market or being used for deception and to protect it as a "military symbol".
He said traditional PLA regulations backdated to the 1950s already had such a stipulation that demobilized military personnel had to return their clothes before leaving. This was due to an insufficient supply and the belief that "army newcomers had to take on old uniforms of demobilized soldiers" to carry on a revolutionary spirit of "plain living and hard struggle".
The regulations on uniforms was somewhat relaxed in later years and allowed demobilized personnel to keep their clothes to "commemorate their army life". As it was, a great many uniforms "were thus lost in society" or "casually worn by security guards or migrant workers", the source said.
Tightening controls on military clothes was "in line with international practice", he said, adding the top command currently issued all demobilized personnel "national defense service badges", playing the role of "remembrance".
The PLA adopted a new style of uniform on July 1 and has tightened its regulation, according to the PLA top command. It stressed that "especially at a time when a large number of troops had not got the new style uniforms, an earlier regulation was better than later".
"The PLA has risen from guerrilla war, and the standardization process has fallen behind (international) foreign military forces, " the source said.
The army on Nov. 7 ordered all military units to properly arrange the annual demobilization of soldiers and military officers and to ensure payment of subsidies.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2007)