Preparing for war, social unrest or a new pandemic? Chinese companies are raising militias like it’s the 1970s

Chinese companies are doing something rarely seen since the 1970s: setting up their own volunteer armies. At least 16 major Chinese firms, including a privately-owned dairy giant, have established fighting forces over the past year, according to a CNN analysis of state media reports.

These units, known as the People’s Armed Forces Departments, are composed of civilians who retain their regular jobs. They act as a reserve and auxiliary force for China’s military, the world’s largest, and are available for missions ranging from responding to natural disasters and helping maintain “social order” to providing support during wartime.

The forces, which do not currently operate outside China, have more in common with America’s National Guard than its militia movement, which refers to private paramilitary organizations that usually have a right-wing political focus.

The establishment of corporate brigades highlights Beijing’s growing concerns about potential conflict abroad as well as social unrest at home as the economy stumbles, analysts say.

The revival is also seen as a response to the pandemic, and part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten Communist Party control over society, including the corporate sector.

“The return of corporate militias reflects Xi’s rising focus on the need to better integrate economic development with national security as the country faces a more difficult future of slower growth and rising geopolitical competition,” said Neil Thomas, a fellow for Chinese politics at Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis.

“Corporate militias under military leadership could help the Communist Party more effectively quell incidents of social unrest such as consumer protests and employee strikes,” he said.

“We are seeing the revival of Mao’s key slogans — ‘the people’s warfare’ and ‘the organic co-existence of the civilian and military sectors,’” Willy Lam, senior fellow of the Jamestown Foundation said.

That might reflect Beijing’s desire to further tighten control over society and put the country on a war footing, just like Mao did in 1950s and 1960s.

In the longer term, Xi might be preparing for an invasion of Taiwan, when “much of China will become militarized,” Lam said, adding that big cities could be turned into “militarized zones” or “ports.”

Xi has vowed that the island’s eventual “reunification” with the mainland is “a historical inevitability.” China’s ruling Communist Party views Taiwan as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it.

78 people read this News!
Leave a comment
There are 0 comment.