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Chinese troops to join police force

Some of the half million troops China is cutting from the world's largest army will be sent to a paramilitary police force, the official China Daily reported Saturday.

The newspaper, citing an unidentified senior officer of the People's Liberation Army, confirmed suspicions by Western defense analysts that the overall strength of China's security forces will be little changed by the current demobilization.Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged in September to reduce the PLA's ranks by 500,000 people in three years to about 2.5 million. The savings were to be spent on upgrading weaponry and other defense systems.

Since then, China Daily said an unspecified number of "field troops from the PLA Group Army" have been transferred to the People's Armed Police. The armed police force was set up in the 1980s to help guard borders and quell domestic riots.