President Xi Jinping gave the People’s Liberation Army’s musicians a rare public scolding on Monday for “fooling the masses” after a series of reports exposed their privileged lifestyle and commercial exploitation of their military status.
The PLA Daily, the armed forces’ mouthpiece, on its front-page, announced new measures by the PLA’s General Political Department to curtail the privileges of the military’s art troupes. The new measures were approved by Xi.
Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan, a renowned soprano opera singer, famously served as the youngest ever civilian major general of the PLA’s General Political Department’s dance troupe before her husband’s rise to the presidency.
The decision comes after a series of scandals exposed the privileged lifestyle of some of the military’s art troupes’ most prominent members.
Famous Tibetan-Chinese singer Han Hong, deputy head of the dance troupe of the PLA Air Force, had to apologise after getting caught three times for violating traffic regulations in Beijing while driving a black Ferrari and a Land Rover.
The new rules bar military musicians from promoting themselves, from performing abroad without prior approval and from performing at private concerts and in bars. They are also barred from participating in casting shows. Han Hong incidentally currently serves as a judge on the musical talent-casting show China’s Idol.
These civilian military cadres, who perform wearing PLA uniforms, will no longer be allowed to hold the PLA’s highest military ranks. “Level three or above civilian cadres can not be called generals or civilian generals,” the new regulations say. They are expected to “consciously clean up their professional circles, life circles and circles of friends”.
Major General Li Shuangjiang, head of the PLA’s Academy of Arts music department , and his wife Liu Qingdi, alias Meng Ge, a member of the General Political Department’s dance troupe, have been under constant media scrutiny since February, when their son Li Tianyi was detained on charges of gang rape. He is expected to stand trial later this week.
Members of the art troupes are expected to perform at least 60 concerts per year, according to the new measures. The musicians are also expected to “join grassroots units for life experience for at least one month every year,” according to the new measures.
In April, Xi had already ordered officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or above to serve as privates - the lowest-ranking soldier - for not less than 15 days. Generals and officers will have to live, eat and serve with junior soldiers during this period. In May, Xi had all military car number plates invalidated and replaced in May. In June, he also ordered a review of real estate owned by the armed forces.