China closes military newspapers as part of reform program
BEIJING: So long, People's Frontline. Adios, Comrade in Arms.
China's armed forces have shut down newspapers published by the country's seven military regions as part of a program to downsize and streamline the world's largest standing military.
The papers, also including War Flag, Vanguard and People's Armed Forces, have been gradually superseded by official news and propaganda television and websites for soldiers whose access to the Internet and smart phones is restricted.
The military's People's Liberation Army Daily said all the publications ceased publishing last week. The oldest, Soldiers News, dated from 1930.
The closures leave the storied PLA Daily as the military's sole remaining daily publication, although state broadcaster CCTV also devotes an entire channel to the armed forces staffed by uniformed officers.
China is in the process of cutting 300,000 personnel from the 2.3 million-member military, reorganizing its command structure and jettisoning non-essential functions such as arts troupes.
The reforms also aim to strengthen the Communist Party's ultimate control over the military, preventing any attempts to make it loyal instead to the people and nation rather than the ruling party.
They also come as China has become more assertive in pressing its claims to territory in the East China Sea and South China Sea, increasing tensions with its neighbors.