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Is Xi Jinping protecting himself from an internal threat? China president reshuffles elite security unit

Sources confirm shake-up of Central Security Bureau that protects Communist Party leaders

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2015, 1:25am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2015, 4:54pm

President Xi Jinping has reshuffled the Central Security Bureau that is in charge of his personal safety, three separate sources have told the South China Morning Post.

Major General Wang Shaojun, the executive deputy commander of the bureau, has been promoted to lead it and also the Central Guard Regiment. The bureau's incumbent commander, Lieutenant General Cao Qing, is being transferred to the Beijing Military Area Command as its deputy commander, the sources said.

The powerful Central Security Bureau is responsible for the safety of top Chinese leaders and the Zhongnanhai compound in central Beijing, where many Communist Party leaders are based.

It directly reports to the general office of Central Committee of the Communist Party.

The security bureau wields considerable power and in the past has moved to stop possible coup attempts. The bureau and Marshal Ye Jianying played a central role in the arrest of the Gang of Fou in 1976. The Cultural Revolution leaders were accused of plotting to seize power after Mao Zedong's death.

Former presidential aide Ling Jihua, who is under investigation for corruption, used to oversee the bureau when he was director of the central office and sources believe Xi wanted to weed out his influence from the unit.

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It is not clear when the changes were made, but Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily reported yesterday that Cao was spotted on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing.

It ran a picture showing him in uniform wearing the badge of the Beijing Military Area Command, suggesting he had already moved to the new position.

Wang Shaojun, 60, was promoted to major general in 2008. He was seen accompanying Xi during the president's inspection of the Nanjing Military Area Command in December.

Two former senior staff of Ling at the General Office, Huo Ke and Wang Zhongtian, were transferred to other government departments in December and last month. Huo was detained by the party's anti-graft agents in January.

The security bureau wields considerable power and in the past it has moved to stop possible coup attempts.

The bureau and Marshal Ye Jianying played a central role in the arrest of the Gang of Fou in 1976. 

The Cultural Revolution leaders were accused of plotting to seize power after Mao Zedong's death.

Cao used to be Marshal Ye's bodyguard and he was involved in the investigation in 1976, known as the Huairentang coup, as three of the gang were detained in the Huairentang Hall in Zhongnanhai. 

The reshuffle comes amid Xi's anti-graft drive in the military.

The government last week announced probes into 14 senior officers, including the son of former top leader, General Guo Boxiong