Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

PLA reform

In China, the PLA has served many roles: employment of last resort during recessions, workforce during natural disasters, entrepreneurs, enrichment opportunity for corrupt officers, and police to prevent protests. Oh, yes, and a defensive military force.

After the Cultural Revolution, the government began offering the generals modern weaponry, a role on China's space program, and opportunities for respect as a modern military in exchange for accepting civilian control.

That transition continues.

China congress: Military facelift a sign of bigger changes
Of the many noteworthy developments that have characterised Chinese President Xi Jinping's first five-year term, none stands out as much as military reform, and this reveals a great deal about the coming political trajectory in China, writes political analyst Cheng Li.

Xi Jinping did not shy from the bold and broad undertaking of military reform and it has resulted in profound changes to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Even beyond the monumental purges of top generals, whose shameless corruption extended to practices like selling military titles, Mr Xi has worked with single-minded purpose to organise and modernise China's military…

He… transformed China's military operations from a Russian-style, army-centric system toward what analysts call a "Western-style joint command"; and swiftly promoted "young guards" to top positions in the officer corps…

Judging from the list of military and police delegates to the forthcoming congress where China's future leaders are to be unveiled, the largest turnover of senior officers in the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is set to occur.

An extraordinary 90% of the 300 military delegates will be first-time attendees.

At most, only 17% (seven of 41) of the military representatives with full membership on the 18th Central Committee will retain their seats…

Gen Li Zuocheng
The new top military leadership will most likely consist of Mr Xi's long-time friends Gen Zhang Youxia, Gen Li Zuocheng, and Adm Miao Hua, along with the newly promoted commanders of the PLA army, navy, air force, and strategic support force.

In addition to their perceived loyalty to Xi Jinping, these generals are known for their extended military service, combat experience, and professional knowledge of modern warfare…

With firm control over the military, Mr Xi has set the stage for a massive turnover in the party leadership at the 19th Party Congress…

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