The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Armed Police Force have banned alcohol consumption among its soldiers and officers.
State controlled Global Times reported that the ban has been strictly implemented in many regions including the Eastern and Western Theater Commands with their headquarters in Nanjing and Chengdu.
In a Tibet-based brigade, soldiers could savor buttered tea and ginger soup instead of alcohol, the report said. Brigade commander Tan Dongfang toasted soldiers with tea at an honors ceremony at the end of 2017. "It is a misunderstanding to think soldiers are armed with weapons and wine," Tan said.
Soldiers need a fresh look in the new era and they could not break the ban for any reason, Tan warned.
The Central Military Commission (CMC) issued the ban for the PLA and the Armed Police Force in September, listing 11 occasions. Soldiers and officers of all ranks could not drink while on duty, on base or in uniform. The ban was the "strictest alcohol ban in history," The Beijing News reported.
The Eastern Theater Command has publicized the alcohol ban on electronic screens and bulletin boards, PLA Daily reported. The command also distributed small cards to soldiers and launched a hotline to report violators.
Violators face severe punishments, Xu Yongling, a retired PLA pilot and an expert at the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told the Global Times on Thursday. “The ban has cleared out unhealthy tendencies and pernicious habits in the army,” Xu said. Drinking alcohol can affect soldiers' training and even endanger their lives, he noted.
"There is no doubt the ban curbed decadence in the military and makes the troops more combat-ready," Xu said. "The unhealthy culture of drinking is mainly cultivated by some high-ranking corrupt officers," Xu said. Their fall from grace had also contributed to the smooth implementation of the ban, he noted.
Since the end of 2014, 15 people in the PLA Air Force were found to have violated the alcohol ban and 87 were found guilty of dereliction of duty, China Youth Daily reported.
Indian media reported earlier that Indian-made alcoholic drinks were popular as gifts given to Chinese soldiers during border meetings.