BEIJING has asked top cadres in each province and in major cities to profess allegiance to the 'leadership collective' with President Jiang Zemin as its core. And Mr Jiang, who is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission, has warned that army officers stationed in the rich provinces might be drawn into an 'anti-Beijing coalition' with local officials. Chinese sources in Beijing said yesterday that beginning last month, Communist Party committees in each province and the main cities had held meetings to discuss the political requirements of the 'new era', a euphemism for the post-Deng Xiaoping order. Under instructions from the Politburo Standing Committee and the General Office of the Central Committee, the party secretary chairing such sessions asked senior cadres present to biaotai ('air their views unreservedly') on the need to profess 'absolute allegiance to the leadership collective with Comrade Zemin as its core'. Each cadre was also asked to give his opinion on the need for regional administrations to sacrifice local economic advantages in the interest of the 'overall national situation'. After rounds of ritualistic biaotai, the party bosses read out Central Committee documents on the overriding importance of maintaining utmost unity with the Centre, particularly in the face of unexpected incidents in the new era. It is understood that apart from Mr Deng's death, such incidents referred to an outbreak of 1989-style student movements as well as conspiracies to subvert the social system mounted by unnamed 'hostile foreign forces'. A party source said that, taking the cue from the party secretaries and recent central documents, all officials who had taken part in such meetings used similar language to enthusiastically show their support for the Jiang leadership. They also insisted that should a conflict occur between the interests of Beijing and those of localities, they would unhesitatingly toe the line of the Centre. 'Many cadres use the metaphor that the whole country is like a game of chess and every move taken must advance the overall interest,' the source said. Cadres who took part in the meetings included members of the provincial or municipal party committees, governors and their deputies, mayors and their deputies, as well as retired local officials. Transcripts of their biaotai, which were recorded in detail by confidential secretaries, were sent to the General Office of the Central Committee as well as the Jiang Zemin Office. Analysts familiar with biaotai activities pointed out that similar exercises in consensus-building were undertaken in the last days of Chairman Mao, immediately after the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976, and soon after Mr Deng's assumption of power in late 1978. They said that after reading the transcripts, Mr Jiang, whose personality cult rivals that of Mr Deng, was reasonably confident that he could knock out any chal lenge after the demise of the patriarch Mr Deng. However, given his lack of credentials in the army and in intelligence, Mr Jiang has taken extra steps to ensure the loyalty of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the People's Armed Police, state security officers as well as the special garrison guarding party headquarters. An army source said that Mr Jiang had recently expressed concern over the disparity of the incomes of PLA officers working in different parts of the country. 'Generals and officers billeted in the central and western areas rely solely on their meagre salaries,' the source said. 'Those stationed along the coast or who are connected to the major army corporations have piled up riches, including overseas bank accounts.' He said in spite of periodic rotations of staff among different military regions, generals and officers who had enriched themselves, thanks to joint ventures with civilian parties along the coast, had remained loyal to local interests. The source said in internal meetings, Mr Jiang had warned that should a power struggle break out after Mr Deng's death, such military elements might support neither Beijing nor himself. Under Mr Jiang's guidance, the Military Commission recently undertook a massive ideological campaign among officers as well as a thorough security check on their 'loyalty'. In the past two months, units including the State Council, the party Central Committee, the Organisation Department, and the Propaganda Department have held numerous gatherings to rally national support behind the Jiang leadership. Analysts said preparations for a smooth transition to the post-Deng era had entered into their final phase.