Xi makes meeting with PLA leaders first mission after congress

President addresses CMC meeting a day after he unveils new Communist Party leadership

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 11:48pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on leaders of the People’s Liberation Army to improve its capabilities and strive to become one of the world’s greatest armies, a day after he unveiled the new Communist Party leadership.

Xi was addressing the high-profile meeting on Thursday as he began his second term as chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC).

During the meeting, Xi reiterated his call for the PLA to become one of the world’s greatest armies by 2050, along with other interim goals such as building a modernised army by 2035.

The president also repeated a more pressing task for the PLA – a major upgrade of capabilities, information technology and achieving the goal of military mechanisation by 2020, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

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At the meeting were the CMC’s two new vice-chairmen, General Xu Qiliang and General Zhang Youxia, along with outgoing vice-chairman General Fan Changlong.

But it appeared from the CCTV report that two top generals were absent – former chief of general staff General Fang Fenghui and director of the political work department, General Zhang Yang.

Both Fang and Zhang were CMC members in Xi’s first term, but they were left off the list of PLA delegates to this month’s party congress. Sources close to the military told the South China Morning Post earlier that the pair were taken away on the same day last month as part of a corruption investigation.

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Defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said on Monday that Xi’s plan to strengthen the military would be fully implemented and his authority would be upheld.

The new CMC line-up to oversee the nation’s armed forces was unveiled on Wednesday. It will be led by a group of seven, down from the 11 members who headed its operations before.