While preparing for a key leadership reshuffle later this year, President of China, Xi Jinping highlighted the Communist Party’s control over the military.
In conjunction with the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 90th anniversary, Xi stressed out that the military should “carry forward and implement the Party’s absolute leadership,”
“As comrade Mao Zedong once pointed out, our principle is to have the Party command the military, not the military command the Party,” he said.
According to analysts, Xi took advantage of the PLA anniversary to strongly establish his personal authority ahead of a Party Congress, which will take place around November this year.
Yvonne Chiu, an assistant politics professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that Xi wanted to give the military a ‘reminder’ that they pledge loyalty not to the country, but to the Party, while sending a message to the country that the military stands firmly on his side.
This reminder plays an important role, especially as the government is currently enforcing the highly popular anti-corruption campaign, which cause uneasiness among the elite.
Xi will most likely be given another five years by the congress to be China’s ruler, but rumor has it that he plans to change the leadership system, where leaders must retire after two terms in power.
CNN reports said that Xi was chosen as the Party’s “core leader” last year October. However, this title was not given to his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who relied on a governance based on a consensus-building style.
“The importance of the Party’s control over the military is an oft-repeated phrase, but Xi has emphasized it heavily during his tenure,” said Tom Rafferty, China manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Part of his reforms plan, Jintao said that Xi seeks the backing of “a younger generation of military officers” even as former top generals have fallen foul of corruption investigations.
At the same time, many of Xi’s rivals or potential successor reportedly became ‘victims’ of the the government’s anti corruption campaign.