June 8, 2016 / 2:27 AM / 2 years ago

China's Xi says laid-off soldiers will be found work

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese soldiers who are demobilized in the course of military reforms will be found other work, President Xi Jinping said, describing the process as an important political task.

Xi unexpectedly announced last September that he would cut troop numbers by 300,000, or some 13 percent of the world’s biggest military, currently 2.3-million strong.

The cuts come at a time of heightened economic uncertainty in China as growth slows and the leadership grapples with painful economic reforms.

Xi, in comments carried by the official Xinhua news agency late on Tuesday, told a meeting that providing demobilized soldiers with civilian jobs was a political task closely linked to military reform.

Demobilized soldiers are “treasures of the party and the state” and their re-employment should be handled well so that they can continue to have active lives, Xi said.

“It is not allowed not to provide positions for demobilized officers under any pretext,” he added.

The government in December told state-owned companies they must help absorb soldiers laid off due to military reforms, as part of their contribution to the army’s modernization and social stability.

China has previously faced protests from demobilized soldiers, who have complained about a lack of support finding new jobs or help with financial problems.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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