Chinese general backs bold effort to shut down army business

BEIJING (AP) — A senior general on Thursday threw his weight behind a bold drive to force China’s army out of business, telling his officers they have no choice but to go along.
The order for the military to shut down its vast commercial empire was issued earlier this week by President Jiang Zemin as part of a widening government campaign against smuggling.
One of the order’s first victims appeared Thursday to be the Hong Kong stock market, just one of the multitude of areas where the People’s Liberation Army has investments.
But Jiang won support Thursday from Gen. Fu Quanyou, the PLA’s chief of General Staff, who ordered “every unit and every cadre” to implement Jiang’s decree “without conditions.”
The anti-smuggling campaign appeared to give Jiang and his supporters in the PLA a convenient excuse to advance a drive to modernize the army and make its 2.9 million members more professional. It may also help Jiang overcome the resistance that foiled similar attempts in the early 1990s to get the military out of business.