Zhou Yongkang

PLA restates allegiance to Xi Jinping after Zhou corruption probe announced

Announcement comes in the wake of launching of official probe of former security tsar

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 1:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:11pm

The army has restated its allegiance to President Xi Jinping following the announcement of a corruption probe against former security tsar Zhou Yongkang.

An article published on the website of the PLA Daily on the eve of today's anniversary of the army's founding day said officers would fully support the anti-corruption drive and remain loyal to the Communist Party - a move that indicates Xi has full control of the military.

Analysts said the move against Zhou, and the earlier decision to investigate Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, signified that Xi had consolidated his support within the party and the military.

The army must "firmly follow the stalwart determination behind the crackdown against graft … and fight for the anti-graft campaign to the end", the PLA Daily said. It added the military pledged to "resist the temptation of power, money and seduction".

State media also reported yesterday that Xi, who chairs the Central Military Commission that governs the PLA, inspected troops in Fujian on Wednesday - a day after the party announced the disciplinary probe against Zhou.

Xi spent 17 years of his political career, until 2002, in the province, starting as a deputy mayor of Xiamen before becoming provincial governor.

Xi called for deeper military reform and greater preparedness, Xinhua reported. He also said corruption within the military should be eradicated.

In Beijing, Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said yesterday that the military "expresses resolute support" for the decision to investigate Zhou.

The China National Petroleum Corporation's party branch issued an online statement saying the move against Zhou reflected Xi's determination to uphold the rule of law. Zhou had extensive experience in the oil sector.

"It seems that things are under control and running according to Xi's plan," said Ni Lexiong , a Shanghai-based military affairs commentator. "Xi may not have embarked on [last month's] overseas trip [to Latin America] if things were not smooth. The state visit indicated that things were going on well in his view.

"When the anti-graft campaign kicked off, there were worries that the unity of the party may be affected if the probe went far. The taking down of Zhou indicates that the campaign remains unaffected."

Observers said Xi's "princeling" background - his father, Xi Zhongxun , was a party elder who helped establish the People's Republic in 1949 - helped Xi remove resistance to his anti-graft campaign. Xi has also relied on public frustration with corruption.

"He has a strong sense of crisis when corruption becomes so rampant. It's something that the previous leaders failed to [have]," said Warren Sun, of Australia's Monash University.

Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said Xi's campaign has not touched on princelings other than disgraced Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai. "That can help reduce resistance from other party elders," he said.