PLA newspaper presses need for party loyalty

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am


The official army newspaper is running a frenzied campaign to demonstrate the PLA's allegiance to the ruling Communist Party.

In the past two weeks the PLA Daily has run at least 27 speeches, editorials and political commentaries to ram home the message that the armed forces should adhere to the party's absolute rule no matter what happens.

Military and political analysts said the rash of articles had been triggered by the downfall in March of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai , who was seen to have support in some military circles.

'Work units of the army were all requested to declare their political stance after Bo was expelled by the Politburo in April, making military leaders who had close connections with Bo very nervous,' a Shanghai-based retired PLA senior colonel said.

They became more nervous after rumours circulated on the internet that military friends of Bo who shared his 'princeling' background were also under investigation, the retired officer said. These officers were said to include Liu Yuan, political commissar of the PLA's General Logistics Department and son of former head of state Liu Shaoqi ; and Zhang Haiyang, political commissar of the army's Second Artillery Corps and son of former Central Military Commission member Zhang Zhen .

Those rumours were soon disproved after Liu Yuan and Zhang Haiyang continued making public appearances. The PLA Daily said Zhang led a delegation of 10 PLA officers to visit Finland and Hungary on April 15, while on April 12, Liu attended a meeting of a Beijing planning commission.

Bo was removed as Chongqing's party secretary on March 15. He was placed under investigation for 'serious discipline violations' and stripped of his membership of the party Politburo on April 10.

The recent rash of PLA Daily articles, which have occupied the front page and opinion columns, have included reports of speeches made by two vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission - General Guo Boxiong and General Xu Caihou - and Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie , and commentaries written by political commissars of the army's four headquarters and senior cadres from other work units.

On May 29, a long commentary titled, 'To unify thinking and build consensus', by one of the daily's political commentators, appeared on its front page, with another full page inside carrying two more articles. One called on military cadres to keep a clear and correct political mindset when reading countless 'harmful rumours circulated on the internet'.

'Among the rumours, the one which harmed the army's morale claimed that Bo had brewed a plot to seize power through a military uprising with the support of top leaders from some military commands, including the Chengdu Military Command,' the retired colonel said.

On April 13, the PLA Daily carried an article by Zhang Haiyang's subordinate Yin Fanglong , political office director of the Second Artillery Corps, urging the strategic missile force to maintain 'the purity of party spirit' by sticking to party rule.

However, Hong Kong-based veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said that in the past week almost all of the commentaries had been written by lower-ranking officials, including a deputy political commissar from the Shaanxi Military Command, an official from the Lanzhou Military Command in Gansu and the party chief of a combat force in Xinjiang.