Veterans Protest Against Yantai Authorities' Broken Promises

September 3, 2007 Updated: September 3, 2007

On the morning of August 31, hundreds of veterans staged their second protest at the Yantai Military Cadres Transfer Office. The protest was triggered by local authorities ignoring the veterans' request for negotiation and implementation of policies meant to aid veterans. Protesters requested authorities to resume negotiation with representatives elected by the veterans.

When the veterans were transferred to civilian work, they struggled to make a living and received no aid from the authorities. On July 17, over 2,000 elderly Yantai veterans gathered in front of the Municipal Peoples' Congress to appeal for negotiation with the city authorities. Many protesters suffered from disabilities and terminal illnesses, and some were wheelchair-ridden. They held a 50-meter long banner signed by tens of thousands of veterans which read: “In the past, we defended our country on the battlefield—it was our honor; Now, in tears, we ask for justiceyantai—it is the sorrow of the nation.”

On the morning of July 26, nine representatives elected by the veterans held a discussion with the city authorities. The city authorities promised to investigate their problems, but attempted to dismantle the collective effort by offering to solve the representatives' individual problems and ignore the other veteran's requests.

In response, the representatives submitted a letter to the authorities, urging they deliver their promise and set another negotiation date. The lack of reply from authorities triggered the August 31 demonstration.

According to Luan Liming, a representative who has not received any benefits or pay for the past 13 years, over 500 protesters sat on both sides of the Donghai Hotel entrance, sang songs, held banners and asked for a revival of the negotiation.

Luan explained that the authorities broke their earlier promises and fail to negotiate, saying the veterans' problems and policies to be implemented would be addressed in details next time. Luan says that he has had to figure out ways to maintain basic survival himself, and policies to aid military cadres were never applied to him.

Since 2005, there have been several large-scale group protests from veterans and retired workers who request over a dozen issues to be solved, including finding new jobs, unpaid salaries, benefits, housing, living allowance, and the implementation of Sun Project, a program that distributes labor after training. Over 5,000 were estimated to have joined the protests.

Recently, an increasing number of veterans have gone to Beijing to protest their poor treatment but were often intercepted by local authorities. These unhappy veterans have now become a nuisance for the Chinese Communist Party as it continues its attempts to tighten control over dissatisfied veterans protesting across the country.