China’s sweeping military reforms to strengthen grip of Communist Party, says army newspaper

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 December, 2015, 2:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 December, 2015, 2:56pm

The PLA’s official newspaper has run a signed commentary arguing that President Xi Jinping’s reforms of the military were aimed at consolidating the Communist Party’s control over the armed forces, while accusing unnamed hostile forces of attempting to “pull the military away” from the party’s banner.

The commentary in the PLA Daily by Cui Lianjie, a deputy director at the PLA Nanjing Institute of Politics, said the reforms would strengthen the power of the Central Military Commission, which is headed by Xi, and make sure supreme leadership and command belonged to him.

READ MORE: PLA officers in the line of fire as China’s plan to axe 300,000 military personnel targets top brass over rank-and-file

The president has announced sweeping changes to China’s military, including cutting personnel by about 300,000, to improve the efficiency and combat readiness of the PLA.

“The party’s absolute leadership of the army is not an abstract principle, it has a set of institutional arrangements to make sure this is the case,” Monday’s commentary said.

Consolidating regional commands and reorganising army headquarters were in line with that goal, the article added.

The party’s absolute leadership of the army is not an abstract principle
Commentary in the PLA Daily

Xi said last week during his first visit to the PLA Daily since he became head of the military that the newspaper should uphold the Communist Party’s absolute leadership over the army and maintain a high degree of consistency with the party leadership, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

“Military propaganda work and an excellent public opinion environment must be created for advancing the national defence and military reforms,” the president was quoted as saying.

The newspaper carried a rare article last month expressing concerns that Beijing could destabilise the armed services and society if it went ahead with plans to restructure and slash the size of the country’s military without addressing the issues of salaries and pensions.

READ MORE: Xi calls for army paper loyalty amid military reforms and job cuts

The article was written by two senior researchers at the PLA National Defence University’s department of strategic education and research.

Their public show of concern suggested Xi’s plans have met some resistance from within the military.