A PLA officer in charge of the security of Beijing has voiced his support for the re-election of President Jiang Zemin as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) during the 16th party congress last month. In an article in the latest issue of party publication Qiushi magazine, Lieutenant-General Zhu Qi, Commander of Beijing Military Region, said the retention of Mr Jiang in the top military post was 'an important political choice by the party'. 'The 16th party congress witnessed a smooth transition between the old and new central collective leaderships and elected an enthusiastic and energetic new leadership,' General Zhu wrote. But he continued: 'Comrade Jiang Zemin continues to be the chairman of the CMC - it is an important political choice made by our party.' General Zhu's statement was the first by the top brass on Mr Jiang's re-election as head of the 2.5-million-strong armed forces. Analysts are split over whether there will be a genuine transition of power during the National People's Congress next March. Some believe Mr Jiang will follow in the footsteps of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and retain control over the army, while some argue he will step down from the military post in less than four months. In the article, General Zhu, widely perceived as a protege of newly elected party secretary Hu Jintao, also pledged allegiance to Mr Jiang. Also in the article, General Zhu spelled out the political credentials of Mr Hu as an army leader, the first time the PLA has done so since Mr Hu became the deputy CMC chairman in 1999. He described the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee under Mr Hu as leaders who have 'rich grassroots experience and practical training in important leading positions'; with the 'ability to lead the party, the state, and the army'; and with a 'pragmatic working style and links to the masses'. General Zhu's public testimony about Mr Hu as a new leader with the ability to take charge of the army has further muddled the picture about whether Mr Jiang will hand over the baton to Mr Hu in March.