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Military Awards and Decorations - 2011

In the past, when Chinese army's senior generals visited abroad, the generals of even small armies had a chest full of rows of colorful ribbons and qualification badges, while the Chinese general,s chest was empty. The PLA officers and men naturally felt some regret. Approved by Hu Jintao, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the General Political Department (GPD) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) issued a notice to start using new decorations, medals, commemorative badges and award certificates from August 1, 2011.

In accordance with relevant provisions stipulated in the Discipline Regulations of the PLA, the GPD designed and made decorations for the first-class and second-class heroes and models as well as commemorative badges for national defense service, country safeguarding and frontier defense, dedications to national defense, peace missions, executions of operations and vital missions, and redesigned and remade medals and award certificates for first-class, second-class and third-class merit citations. The decorations, medals, commemorative badges and award certificates were delivered to all PLA troop units recently.

According to the notice, the use of new decorations, medals, commemorative badges and award certificates represents an important measure to advance military reward reform and innovation, and is of very important significance for inheriting and carrying forward PLA’s fine traditions, innovating and enriching award forms, and better inspiring officers and soldiers of the PLA to effectively perform PLA’s historical missions.

The wearing of medals indicating the performance of some sort of military service is said to have been practised by the Chinese in the first century AD, but was not common in Europe until the seventeenth century. The use of badges and significant emblems as evidences of military service or prowess is doubtless older. These decorative devices were assumed by the wearers, or specific authority to display them was conferred. In conferring recognition of services performed, it was early seen that the character of the award must accord with that of the service; that awards must be made with care, with neither too liberal nor too restrictive a hand, so as not to be unduly cheapened nor yet made too difficult of achievement.

Military style medals and award ribbons in colors that represent the medal are normally worn on the left chest. In the United States, the highest military award Medal of Honor is given by the President in the name of Congress for a particular deed of distinguished bravery in action. The decoration design from World War II onward is pendant from the neck by a blue watered-silk ribbon. Other US medals intended to be worn about the neck include the Legion of Merit Commander, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In the United States, medals to be worn on the left chest are suspended from drape style ribbons. Many European countries use a triangular folded ribbon known as Windsor style [think Windsor knot tie], while in the past Chinese medals were suspended from Russian style ribbons. There are also various national practices as to whether all the medals are worn in a single row, or in multipe over-lapping rows.

China has implemented a new decorations and medals system, "with Chinese characteristics". Evidently much influenced by the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the new Chinese system is very much patterned on Olympic awards, with gold, silver and bronze medals suspended from a ribbon worn around the neck. There is also a ribbon to be worn on the left chest, but while a ribbon group is evidently envisioned, there does not seem to be any provision for wearing the medal any time after the initial presentation.


First class merit for
"Heroic Model"

Second class merit for
"Heroic Model"

First class merit

Second class merit

Third class merit

Gold medal for
"Service in the
National Defense"

Silver medal for
"Service in the
National Defense"

Bronze medal for
"Service in the
National Defense"

Gold medal for
"Keeper of the Frontier"

Silver medal for
"Keeper of the Frontier"

Bronze medal for
"Keeper of the Frontier"

Gold medal for
"Dedication to
National Defense"

Silver medal for
"Dedication to
National Defense"

Bronze medal for
"Dedication to
National Defense"

Medal for
"Emissary of Peace"

Medal for
"Performance of
War Mission"

Bronze medal for
"Performance of
Great Mission"





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