PLA urged to unite behind Xi Jinping and prevent 'political liberalism'

Call comes as ruling elite gathers for annual closed-door meetings amid concerns about how far president's anti-corruption campaign will reach

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 3:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 10:01am

The PLA's political wing has urged officers and soldiers to stand united behind the leadership of President Xi Jinping in a call that coincides with the annual summer meeting of the ruling elite at the seaside retreat in Beidaihe.

Soldiers should resolutely prevent "liberalism in politics" and "oppose misconceptions" that might hinder reform efforts, the military's General Political Department said in a circular published in the PLA Daily yesterday.

"The party's leadership over the army must be absolutely upheld," it said.

The circular comes at a politically sensitive time. Party elites are gathering in Beidaihe to work out major policy decisions, including on a reform programme for the world's largest armed force.

The military has also fallen under scrutiny as Xi widens his anti-corruption campaign.

In June, the party said it had expelled Xu Caihou, a retired general and former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission. Xu faces a court martial on charges of corruption, becoming the most senior PLA officer to fall in the anti-graft drive.

In recent speeches, Xi has pledged to strike hard against corruption in the military and has urged officers to banish corrupt practices.

Analysts said the release of the circular indicated possible anxiety among some senior officers over the reform programme and anti-graft drive.

"There must be strong resistance among some top brass over both Xi's reform package and his extended anti-graft campaign into the army," said Zhang Lifan , a political affairs analyst.

The party leadership cracked down on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, ordering the army to stay out of business activities. However, graft has become a problem in recent years as some army units extend into business dealings.

The circular said that officers and soldiers should understand reforms were needed to ensure the army was capable of fighting and winning modern battles. It also warned reforms might touch on some officers' or groups' personal interests.

"Individuals should be amenable to the comprehensive interests of the entire army and adapt to the changes," the circular urged.

It said officers and soldiers must "always be vigilant and steadfast on political issues and strictly abide by discipline regarding politics, organisation and secrecy".

The circular also told officers and soldiers not to comment on or spread political rumours.