Hu calls for PLA loyalty as fears grow of trouble ahead

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 February, 2009, 12:00am

President criticises the army over poor discipline

President Hu Jintao told leaders of the People's Liberation Army to 'strengthen military discipline' and make sure the army stays absolutely loyal to the Communist Party as China enters a year of harsh economic reality and sensitive anniversaries.

In a meeting with the top brass of the Central Military Committee - the supreme command unit of the PLA of which Mr Hu is the chairman - he criticised the army for poor discipline and told his generals to make sure the military always followed the orders of the party, Xinhua reported.

'We must realise there are shortcomings in our work ... Sometimes we don't have comprehensive understanding of the latest development. We need to strengthen our military discipline. At various levels, [some officials] have been lax in enforcing discipline ... We must take these issues seriously and find solutions,' he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

He asked the PLA generals to 'step up political education' - a catchword when the party demands greater loyalty from the military.

'We should unify the thinking of all soldiers and officials to the same direction as the central authorities. We must make sure the army will follow the instruction of the CMC and the Communist Party at any time, under any circumstances,' Mr Hu said. 'We must always be sure of the army's stability and its unity.'

All top generals of the PLA attended the meeting, which was held at an unspecified date. China's Central Television reported the event as the top news at its evening news programme last night.

Mr Hu also called on the army to modernise itself and prepare for possible 'military struggle'.

He said domestic and international environments were changing fast and the military leaders must stay in sync with the changes.

'We have entered a new era and the army's responsibilities and missions have also changed. All these pose higher demands for the CMC leaders and they should work constantly to improve themselves,' he said.

His comments come as the mainland economy faces a slump and the country enters a year full of sensitive political anniversaries. Economic growth last year slowed to the lowest in five years and many doubted if the country could achieve an 8 per cent gross domestic product growth target this year.

A wave of factory shutdowns in the wake of falling exports has left millions of migrant workers unemployed, adding to worries among officials about a rise in social unrest.

This year will also have sensitive anniversaries, such as the 50th anniversary of the Tibet uprising and 20th anniversary of the June 4 democratic movement. The People's Republic will also mark its 60th anniversary in October, with a grand military parade planned.

Meanwhile, the chief commander of China's strategic missile force said the country should speed up the building of its nuclear deterrence capability and strategic missile arsenal.

Jing Zhiyuan , the chief commander of the PLA's Second Artillery Corp, said in an article published by the party's mouthpiece Qiushi Monthly magazine yesterday that the strategic missile force must watch out for the changing international environment and modernise itself accordingly. He highlighted the importance of the strategic missile force in China's national defence.