Monday, December 22, 2014

Xi and his rogue Generals – Will PLA cleanup spillover borders?

My article Xi and his rogue Generals – Will PLA cleanup spillover borders? appeared in NitiCentral.

Here is the link...

A few days ago, The PLA Daily announced that there will be no sanctuary for corruption in the Chinese defence forces.
Quoting the flagship newspaper of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Xinhua explained that “in the battle against corruption, there will be no privilege or sanctuary of impunity for anyone.”
The PLA strongly denied that “continuing the campaign against corruption could destabilise people’s morale and public trust.”
On the contrary, it asserted that the campaign would continue: “The battle against corruption has entered a crucial tug-of-war stage; the anti-graft campaign is in line with the people’s expectations and as the campaign deepens, …the Communist Party of China (CPC) and political environment in China will become even healthier. The anti-corruption efforts will only boost the morale among the Party, the military and the public; not undermine it.”
The message is clear, the cleansing campaign in the PLA is here to stay; moreover, in the present battle, there cannot be any safe haven for the corrupt.
Bill Bishop, the author of the The Sinocism China Newsletter argued that it is not a usual purge campaign: “I am quite convinced it is a mistake to call the corruption crackdown under Xi a ‘campaign’. …I think people have been far too dismissive of some of the changes Wang Qishan [Politburo’s Standing Committee member] is making within CCDI [Central Commission for Disciple Inspection] system. …Xi and Wang are less than 24 months into this and can’t hit everything at once, especially as Xi is still consolidating power. It may fail, but the crackdown is already much deeper and longer than almost anyone expected, and the signs are that it is intensifying, not slowing, and looks to be still in its early days inside the PLA.”
The battle is indeed intensifying; the Xinhua piece noted “the anti-decadence movement is still grave and complicated and will inevitably meet some kind of resistance.”
President Xi Jinping knows very well that the question is not to fix one or two adversaries, such Bo Xilai or Zhou Yongkang, the former Chongking Party boss and security Tsar respectively; the present move has to go much deeper, if the CCP is to survive. Many historical studies have shown that it the crucial point where the former Soviet Union collapsed; it is the struggle for survival of a system. It is even more vital for the defence forces.
Whether Xi and Wang will succeed or not is another issue. The PLA Daily threatens: “The anti-corruption campaign has already touched senior ‘tigers’ like Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou, and who will be left untouchable?”
General Xu Caihou was the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission before retiring in 2013; he has now been booked as one of the main culprits.
Reuters wrote about the modus operandi: “Luxury cars filled with gold bars were given away as bribes by a former senior military officer implicated in a graft case investigators say involves 30 billion yuan (5 billion US $).”
An assistant of Xu Caihou, Gu Junshan who was deputy director of the PLA’s logistics department, is now suspected of having ‘offered’ hundreds of military positions on behalf of his boss.
Quoting the Phoenix Weekly, a magazine with close ties with the Central government, Reuters says: “Sources close to the top of the logistics department said Gu took bribes worth about 600 million yuan (US $ 100 million) in return for his part in a scam involving a total of 30 billion yuan.”
General Gu was apparently obsessed with gold, especially gold statues of Buddha. The magazine found out that when he wanted to offer a gift, Gu would load up a Mercedes with gold bars and then simply send the car keys to the beneficiary; up to 100kg of gold could be ‘offered’ that way.
If some generals have contributed to Xu’s and Gu’s schemes, it means that they had ways to recover their ‘investment’.
According to the Chinese press, Gu’s and Xu’s cases are closely connected.
Another general under investigation is Maj. Gen, Dai Weimin, vice-president of the PLA Nanjing Institute of Politics. Caixin, the Beijing-based financial publicationsaid that Dai was detained around mid-November for allegations related to land and infrastructure projects at the institute’s Shanghai campus. According to the same publication, housing and infrastructure contracts are the most common areas where ‘gifts’ take place.
While recently inspecting the Nanjing Military Area Command, Xi Jinping, who is also CMC’s Chairman, warned that the PLA should ‘fully clear up the bad influence left [by Xu] in the army’s ideological, political and organizational work as well as the style of work.”
Can China defend its borders with this style of work?
That is why President Xi will do everything to change the current state of affairs. While naming Xu and Gu, Xi said: “officers and soldiers should firmly follow the command of the CMC at any time and under any circumstances”. Follow the Party is the recurrent motto! But will the Party survive? It is too early to say.
The same announced that the first female ‘tiger’ was under investigation on suspicion of bribery. Maj. Gen. Gao Xiaoyan used to be political commissar and CCDI’s representative in the PLA Information Engineering University before her arrest.
She is suspected of taking big amounts while serving as political commissar at the PLA’s 309th Hospital from 2005 to 2012. Some rumors said that she was also intimately close to Gu Junshan.
A native of Shanxi, the province which is topping arrests for corruption, Gao joined the army when she was 17. She had been responsible for major construction projects at the hospital. It included building 15 dormitories and a garage, which could accommodate 1,000 vehicles.
If many of the senior posts have been ‘purchased’, this does not speak well for the level of preparedness of the Chinese Armed Forces.
Closer to us in India, is Lt. Gen. Yang Jinshan, who for years commanded the Tibet Military District, opposite the Indian troops posted in Arunachal. He ‘did’ so well that he reached the ‘Marxist’ heaven, the Central Committee of the CCP.
In 2005, Yang (a Han, like all the senior PLA officers) was promoted to the rank of major general and in July 2011, he became a lieutenant general. He took over the Command of the Tibet Military District in 2009 and 3 years later, he was elected as a member of the powerful Central Committee.
In June 2013, General Yang was transferred on promotion to Chengdu as a Deputy Commander of the Chengdu Military Region, from where he oversaw the operations in Tibet.
In October 2014, he was suddenly expelled from the Central Committee ‘for serious disciplinary violations’.
Apparently, General Yang’s arrest is also linked to Xu Caihou’s wrongdoings.
In the meantime, the CMC warned that ideological struggles within the PLA were ‘acute and complicated’. The Global Times asserted: “Military reform has entered ‘uncharted waters’ with concerns growing that reform could be impeded by ‘structural problems’.”
Quite worrying!
One should not be surprised if some disgruntled generals try to enter into Indian Territory in Ladakh or Arunachal, just to divert the attention of the leadership.

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