China Reform Monitor - No. 921
Party takes stiffer line against "forced demolitions";
Taiwan beefs up defenses against Chinese hackers
September 28, 2011
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which recently began a major reform of its educational and training institutions, has announced plans to recruit more college graduates. According to a statement on the website of the Ministry of National Defense, the new policy will begin with a nationwide enlistment drive in November in which “young people with better educational backgrounds will enjoy preferential treatment.” Other reforms designed to attract more qualified candidates include a new online application and increasing the maximum age for PLA recruits to 24. The policy to enlist college graduates began in 2001 and by 2010 130,000 were PLA soldiers.
Four ministries including the Ministry of Land and Resources jointly reported penalties for officials involved in six recent cases of serious injuries resulting from illegal forced home demolition. Forty-four officials from Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Hubei, Hebei, and Hunan have been implicated for improper demolitions including two district government chiefs. The ministries issued a joint nationwide warning to local officials that “illegal forced demolition is a red line that cannot be crossed, whatever the time or situation,” the Legal Evening News reports.
China’s Supreme People’s Court has called on local officials to stop authorizing the forced demolitions of houses and to prevent them when a homeowner threatens to commit suicide or harm others. In recent years, homeowners without recourse have resorted to self-immolation and poured gasoline on demolition teams, the high court said on its website. The directive, which disappeared just hours later, was first drafted and sent to local courts in May after a farmer burned himself to death on the roof of his house in Zhuzhou, Hunan. Given the “extremely bad social influence” of these incidents, the court’s directive gave eight instructions to local courts including that demolition teams should stop work if the owner of the house takes violent action and should reject government departments’ applications for permits to knock down a house when the owner has a pending appeal against the demolition. Wang Cailiang, an attorney specializing in fighting demolitions, said that in contrast to the vague wording of current rules the new circular gave very explicit guidelines on how to deal with demolitions. “It will doubtlessly become an important weapon for the public to fight against illegal demolition. Local courts have traditionally sided with local government departments on the issue of demolition, but this time, it was like the court said 'no' to them,” Wang said in comments carried by the South China Morning Post.
[Editor’s Note: Forced demolitions have become commonplace amid rapid industrialization and urbanization, triggering numerous riots, suicides and self-mutilation that Beijing blames for contributing to social instability.]
To ensure a “secure and trusted digitalized government,” between 2012 and 2016 Taiwan will spend NT$1.8 billion ($612 million) to protect its official websites from mainland Chinese hackers. Taipei’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission will “create an integrated cloud computing information security system to upgrade the protection, warning, management and informing capacities of computer systems at government institutions,” the Taipei Times reports. The new system will be developed by a combination of government institutions to create several layers of protection. Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director, Tsai Der-sheng, told Taiwan’s legislators that Chinese hackers are the major concern and usually route attacks on Taiwan’s official websites through a third country.
China has created a “military think tank with Chinese characteristics” that will administer 818 PLA “military scientific research programs” sponsored by the country’s National Social Science Fund. Under China’s 11th Five-Year Plan Beijing will underwrite 24 percent more “military projects” than under the 10th Five-Year Plan. The announcement, which was made after the PLA’s 7th Military Science Research Conference on September 9, also reported that the PLA’s project completion rate was an improbable “99.7%, among which 230 are awarded ‘Outstanding Military Scientific Achievement Award of the PLA.’” The official PLA Daily reports that the projects are intended to promote the “modernization of the national defense and armed forces” but did not provide the name of the new institution that will oversee them.