Leader's cunning plan makes perfect sense

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 12:00am

I suspect that one of the main reasons President Jiang Zemin is giving a pay rise to his soldiers is to keep them loyal to him.

Internal stability has always been far more important than external expansion to Chinese governments.

With China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and the choosing of a presidential successor on the horizon, social unrest could easily escalate.

Throughout history, generals and nobles swearing fealty to the emperor have gone on to become regional warlords, commanding the loyalty of huge numbers of supposedly government troops.

In the present climate, it is sensible of Mr Jiang to make sure he has the loyalty of the Army.

If there is a provincial power struggle or a power struggle when choosing his successor, he will have a better chance of keeping his faction on top if the PLA is on his side.

The Chinese Communist Party might be quite happy that attention has been focused on its intentions externally, as maybe it takes the spotlight away from what is really happening internally.