|Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd R) speaks at a meeting on the country's militia work in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 15, 2011. (Xinhua/Wang Jianmin)
BEIJING, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday pledged to improve militia management so that civilian soldiers can better serve the country's economic and defense needs.
Members of the militia should play a better role in the country's economic and social development, especially in the emergency response system, Wen said at a meeting on the country's militia work.
They should be able to serve the people in peaceful days, respond to contingencies and fight during war, Wen said.
Local governments should ensure maintenance funds for militia services and protect the rights and interests of those serving in the militia, he said.
Over the past three decades, the militia has contributed greatly to the country's border control, economic development, social stability, and rescue and relief work in natural disasters, he said.
China had 8 million militia members, down from 10 million five years ago, Minister of National Defense Liang Guanglie said in a 2010 interview.
Before the meeting, participants were also received by President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.