Talks to ensure military loyalty

THE policy-setting Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party met for two days immediately after the end of the Fourth Plenum of the Central Committee.

Military analysts, however, are not sure whether it was an 'enlarged meeting', whose participants would include leaders of the three general army departments and representatives from the regional commands.

It is believed the purpose of the meeting was to ensure army loyalty to the party leadership with CMC chairman Jiang Zemin as its 'core'.

The analysts believed the conclave discussed personnel matters, including the possible retirement of CMC vice-chairman Zhang Zhen, and the induction of Defence Minister General Chi Haotian and Deputy Chief Political Commissar Wang Ruilin into the commission.

However, the official media has had no word on the reshuffles at either the central or regional levels.

It is believed, however, that Mr Jiang, who is also president and party general secretary, has been able to boost his influence among the top brass.

Meanwhile, a long-standing political foe of Mr Jiang, former president Yang Shangkun, has continued to make waves.

The Chinese press reported that Mr Yang, a former military strongman, had undertaken a tour of the coastal province of Shandong.

During National Day celebrations at the provincial capital of Jinan, Mr Yang was accompanied by Shandong party boss Jiang Chunyun, and the commander of the Jinan military region, General Zhang Taihang.

Chinese newspapers reported that Mr Yang, 87, 'walked with a swift pace'.

The papers added that holidaymakers 'expressed their good wishes to comrade Yang Shangkun'.

Political analysts said the high profile of Mr Yang attested to the fact that President Jiang was unable to sideline his competitor.