Communist Party of China set to tighten grip on military

China's President Xi Jinping arrives at Orly airport, outside Paris on Sunday.  

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is set to tighten its grip on a downsized military through major institutional changes that could enhance the combat edge of the force.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has focussed on tightening political command and control by the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the CPC, following a two day meeting that ended last Thursday. The reforms are expected to be enforced by 2020. The proposed structural changes, which highlight more efficient centralisation at the apex level, should strengthen the position of President Xi, who is also the general secretary of CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CMC.

President Xi stressed new changes in the military are based on the principle that “the CPC has absolute leadership of the armed forces”.

The new setup will ensure that disciplinary inspectors will be sent to CMC departments and zone commands. Analysts say that the new body will keep a sharp eye on combating corruption within the armed forces.

At present the army has 850,000 troops, which are deployed under seven military area commands headquartered in Shenyang, Beijing, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Lanzhou. The CMC also exercises command and control over the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps, which deploys nuclear weapons, through four general headquarters.

The new discipline commission is expected to undermine the power of political officers and their deputies in lower level military units.

The Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has a unique tradition of appointing political officers, of which the most senior are commissars, holding a military rank equalling that of unit commanders. The daily quoted an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, as saying that “the overhaul means the political status of departments and political commissars will be weakened … and the new disciplinary commission will help the party control the army more”.

In order to have a more favourable “teeth-to-tail” ratio, China will also cut its troops by 300,000, mainly from non-combat areas. President Xi said that a “revolution” in the management of the military affairs will be rolled out to enhance professionalism in the army.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 6:38:06 AM |

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