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People's Daily Online

Chinese railway transportation falls short of military demand

People's Daily Online

(People's Daily Online) 13:28, August 09, 2016

China's rapidly-developing railway system has yet to meet the military's demand for transportation, a newspaper affiliated with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) admitted, after photos of PLA soldiers traveling in boxcars triggered online discontent.

The photos, which began to proliferate online in mid-July, show soldiers sitting on the floor of what appears to be a boxcar. Some were also sitting on hard seats, while other photos reveal soldiers crammed uncomfortably into sleeping cars. The soldiers were allegedly on their way back from a military drill in northwestern China, according to a China National Radio Weibo post, which could no longer be found as of press time.

The photos immediately triggered outrage among Chinese netizens, who criticized the poor conditions as outdated and hard on the soldiers, even though some self-identified veterans commented that traveling in boxcars was in fact more comfortable.

In response, China National Defense, a newspaper affiliated with PLA Daily, said the troops were forced to travel in boxcars during their ad hoc mission due to inadequate railway capacity.

"It is undeniable that military transportation infrastructure and capacity has developed rapidly thanks to support from railway authorities. Many breakthroughs have been made to increase the speed and comfort of military transportation," the newspaper noted, adding that Chinese troops travel through more than 20 regions in China and Russia every year via rail.

"However, the railway construction still falls short of military transportation requirements, especially in western China, where railway transportation is inadequate," the article noted, suggesting increased government investment and integration between civilian and military transport companies to improve the current conditions.



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