Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The PLA Celebrates 80 Years
The People's Liberation Army, or PLA is celebrating its 80th anniversary this week.
And foreigners were invited to a special event for them at the Military Museum. The event is titled "Our Troops March Towards the Sun".
Various diplomats and uniformed military attaches were there, mostly from countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Israel, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan to be enlightened by the PLA's military might.
We were taken through a slew of exhibits starting from when the PLA was founded in 1927 to the technological advances of airplane, tank and ship simulators and satellites, to saving lives in natural disasters.
What was also interesting was that ordinary Chinese could recite major historic events in their country's history, or even explain the many martyrs or heroes in the PLA who have become larger than life.
One saved a boy from a well, but at the cost of his own life; another was diagnosed with terminal cancer and yet is determined to pass on his knowledge through teaching. There was a picture of an older surgeon just out of the operating room. We asked if he was the retired military doctor who told the world about the real SARS situation in China. The minder accompanying us wasn't sure.
For a military museum it was quite informative and had interesting displays, from models of tanks, planes and submarines in some strategic formation, to pup tents and old rifles.
The Chinese government spends 17 per cent of its overall budget on military spending. It looks like every yuan is well spent. There was nothing frivolous -- no champagne, tea or water for parched guests as they wandered through the large exhibition.