Plan for stronger PLA cells
By JOSEPHINE MA
THE Chinese Communist Party has decided to strengthen grassroots cells in the Army in addition to those in the party hierarchy, according to a Hong Kong observer.
The chief editor of the pro-China magazine Wide Angle, Lee Kwok-keung, said a meeting had been called this month on 'strengthening the management of the grassroots structure of the People's Liberation Army'.
Loose discipline and 'formalism' among the troops had been criticised at the meeting, Mr Lee said.
He added that reordering of cells in the party and among the troops would be carried out after the plenum.
Mr Lee, who is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said it was understood that two elderly generals, Zhang Zhen and Liu Huaqing, might be around for some time.
This is in spite of widespread reports that at least one of the two vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission would step down in favour of rising stars such as generals Chi Haotian and Wang Ruilin, both 65.
'It is not necessary to have major personnel changes in the Army. It is good for [President] Jiang Zemin to have the assistance of the two elder generals,' he said.
Mr Lee said a significant result of the plenum was the expansion of the Central Committee Secretariat whose membership was increased from seven to nine.
'The structure of the secretariat had been simplified after 1989, and it [the expansion] means the focus will be more on the daily operation of the party,' he said.
The chief editor of Contemporary Monthly, Ching Cheong, holds a different view on the staying power of generals Zhang and Liu.
He said it meant Mr Jiang's grip on the troops was not firm enough.
Meanwhile, CPPCC delegate Xu Simin, also the publisher of monthly Mirror magazine, denied that the plenum had paid no attention to economic issues.
Corruption was at the root of many economic problems such as unemployment, the brain-drain and hyperinflation and they could only be solved when the discipline of the Communist Party had been boosted, Mr Xu said.
'The strengthening of the central leadership is a drastic measure to cope with the problems.' in the country,' he said.
Important economic decisions were not appropriate as the effect of austerity measure had yet to be proved.