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Parliamentary Body to Discuss Military Ranks

June 24, 1988

BEIJING (AP) _ A committee of the National People’s Congress convenes Saturday to consider restoring military ranks abolished by Mao Tse-tung more than 20 years ago.

The weeklong session of the congress’ Standing Committee also will take up proposals to confer medals on retired soldiers, said Zhang Husheng, director of the committee’s information bureau.

The National People’s Congress is China’s legislature.

It is widely believed the army will formally reinstate ranks on either Aug. 1, Army Day, or Oct. 1, National Day. Mao did away with the titles in 1965 to create an egalitarian, proletarian army.

Zhang spoke at the first news briefing ever held by the Standing Committee. He said it was part of efforts to ″increase openness″ of government proceedings.

The 155-member Standing Committee handles day-to-day affairs of the 3,000- member congress, which meets once a year. The committee is meeting for the second time since the congress held its 7th full session in March.

Zhang said the committee will study proposals submitted by the Central Military Commission, headed by senior leader Deng Xiaoping, on re-establishing the military rank system.

The committee will also take up draft rules on defining the roles of officers in the People’s Liberation Army and will discuss education.

Zhang said ranks were ″conducive to commanding and control of our army and required by modernization and standardization of our army.″

Deng has sought to bring back ranks to help create a more modern and efficient fighting force. Since 1985 the army has been reduced in size from 4 million to 3 million soldiers, and more effective weaponry has been introduced.

Although policies are still set by the ruling Communist Party, the congress in recent years has become a forum for debate and discussion of those policies.

Zhang said the Standing Committee will hold news briefings once every two months and will make the contents of its meetings as open as possible.

He said the committee also plans to set up a reception room where ordinary congress members can express opinions. It will meet in a larger room in the Great Hall of the People to accommodate more non-voting members and a visitor’s gallery, he said.

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