Jiang to tighten grip on PLA
Willy Wo-Lap Lam
President Jiang Zemin is calling an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission next month to further tighten his grip on the PLA.
Army sources said yesterday the commission would oversee rejuvenation at the central and regional level.
It will emphasise the question of loyalty 'in the new era', meaning toeing the line of the party central authorities with Mr Jiang as the core.
The commission will confirm the pre-eminence of two Jiang aides, commission vice-chairmen General Zhang Wannian and General Chi Haotian.
General Zhang will have overall control over army modernisation, strategy and deployment as well as the issue of Taiwan.
A number of lieutenant-generals are expected to be made full generals soon after the commission meeting.
The sources said the commission would also review Taiwan and the international situation.
The generals are expected to endorse Mr Jiang's recommendations on the next step to boost ties with the United States and to hasten the pace of unification with Taiwan.
A source said economic matters would be a key item on the agenda.
As a result of bold economic reforms announced at the 15th Party Congress in September, the party leadership had made repeated calls on the PLA to incorporate its interests and those of economic development.
The source said morale among the ranks remained low over paltry pay increases as well as the difficulty in finding jobs for demobilised soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Liberation Army Daily yesterday called on officers and soldiers to be satisfied with their economic conditions and not to be jealous of sectors that had benefited more from reforms.
'We must stand in a high place and take the long view,' the official paper said.
'We must unify personal interests and those of the country. We must unify the interests of the here and now and those of the long term.
'The rights and privileges of soldiers will be safeguarded and their salary levels raised.' The party committees of headquarters and regional units have held marathon meetings since the 15th congress to boost the 'ideological rectitude' of officers.