China’s military
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
The article emphasised that the Central Military Commission, chaired by Xi Jinping, has overall command responsibility and must be obeyed at all times. Photo: Reuters

China’s military told to ‘resolutely do what the party asks it to do’

  • PLA Daily runs lengthy article telling soldiers to follow the party’s leadership and take ‘whatever risks and challenges’ are needed
  • It comes as Beijing’s propaganda machine goes into overdrive ahead of next month’s twice-a-decade national congress
China’s military mouthpiece has published a lengthy article on President Xi Jinping’s ideas on the armed forces, as Beijing’s propaganda machine goes into overdrive ahead of a key gathering of the ruling Communist Party.
The article, published in PLA Daily earlier this week, told the People’s Liberation Army to follow the party’s leadership and carry out assigned tasks, regardless of how difficult and dangerous they are.
It comes less than a month before the party congress that is expected to see Xi secure an unprecedented third term in power and usher in sweeping changes at the top, including the military’s supreme command.
The article emphasised that the Central Military Commission, chaired by Xi, has overall command responsibility and must be obeyed at all times. Notably, it named several top generals purged in Xi’s campaign against corruption for trying to undermine the power and authority of the CMC chairman. Hu Jintao was the CMC chairman before Xi.

It also made clear that the PLA must take on any mission called for by the party leadership.

The message is being sent as the PLA is under scrutiny amid rising tensions with the United States, the world’s top military power, over Taiwan. Beijing sees the island as part of its territory and has not ruled out using force to take it back.
On Sunday, US President Joe Biden again said American troops would defend the self-governed island militarily if Beijing were to attack. The PLA has also stepped up drills around Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island last month, and there have been growing calls for the military to boost combat readiness.

Describing PLA soldiers as “bricks” ready to go wherever the party sends them, the article called on military personnel to take “whatever risks and challenges” were needed.

It said the military should “resolutely do what the party asks it to do, and resolutely refuse to do what the party does not allow”.

Under the principle that “the party controls the gun”, it said history showed that the system of the CMC chairman holding ultimate authority had been “crucial” in times of political crisis.

The article also pointed to complicated ideological challenges for the military at a time of “profound changes in both the internal and external environment”. It said there had been talk of “depoliticising the PLA and even attempts to split the army from the party’s control to become a ‘national army’”.

“The party’s absolute leadership over the military is an unshakeable system … which plays an irreplaceable and important role in ensuring the party’s long-term governance and political stability,” it said.

The article also took aim at Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former vice-chairmen of the CMC, saying they had weakened the role of the military commission. But it said that role had been restored after Xi’s anti-graft drive brought down Guo, Xu and other corrupt senior generals.

It said that as chairman of the CMC, Xi was also able to lead the PLA in the battle against the coronavirus when it first emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province.

“The CMC chairmanship – a mechanism at the central command level that gives the chairman the final word on major issues covering the military’s personnel, departments and all other work units – is the fundamental system to ensure the party’s absolute leadership over the military,” the article said.

President Xi Jinping is also chairman of the Central Military Commission. Photo: Xinhua

PLA Daily devoted more than 6,800 words to the piece, reiterating the importance of the CMC chairman responsibility system nearly 30 times and calling for “absolute loyalty” to Xi. The system – under which Xi makes key military decisions – is enshrined in the constitution and the party charter.

Ni Lexiong, a professor with the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said: “There is no contradiction between the party’s absolute leadership over the PLA and the CMC chairmanship system.”

A military law expert, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the article was also a message for the Chinese public – that the CMC system was aimed at preventing the abuse of military power by individuals.