CHINESE President Jiang Zemin has consolidated his position as the chief interpreter of ''Deng Xiaoping thought''. In a meeting with strategists from the University of National Defence last week in Beijing, the President, who is also the head of the party's Central Military Commission (CMC), said Mr Deng's military thinking should be considered the ''pillar'' of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The conclave was attended by top generals including Defence Minister Chi Haotian, CMC Vice-Chairmen Zhang Zhen and Liu Huaqing, Chief of Staff Zhang Wannian, Chief Political Commissar Yu Yongbo and Logistics Chief Fu Quanyou. The conclave focused on the superiority of Deng's thinking and its effect on the PLA, according to a report by the China News Service. Last week's meeting followed a series of war games called by the CMC ''to raise the combat-readiness of the army''. The same message about improving army quality was stressed by Mr Jiang in the meeting, when he said the PLA could strengthen itself only by studying Deng's thinking, especially his theory on army building. Mr Jiang pointed out that the army could not insulate itself from the rapidly changing society and admitted the PLA faced the danger of ''materialistic corruption''. ''The army does not live in a vacuum. It also faces the danger of infiltration by unhealthy social ills such as individualism, lust for luxury and money,'' the President said. ''The question of maintaining the purity and honesty of the armed force is also related to safeguarding the proletarian nature of our army,'' he said. To combat such ''social evils'', Mr Jiang said it was important for the top brass to ''set examples'' for their subordinates to follow. ''Deng Xiaoping has talked many times about the significance of leading cadres setting [good] examples . . . This will have great appeal, influence and convincing power on the people,'' Mr Jiang reportedly said. ''If leading cadres do not set good examples, corruption will spread.'' According to Mr Jiang, senior cadres should consider themselves ''public servants'' and cultivate the ''spirit of self-sacrifice'' in order to influence their followers. Military analysts said destroying corruption in the army was an uphill battle because of the increasing number of PLA-related companies that were doing business in China and abroad.