Tuesday, January 12, 2016

General Zhao Zongqi: from Tibet to the CMC

Chairman Xi meets the old CMC and new commanders
Yesterday, President Xi Jinping announced the reorganization of the four PLA military headquarters or departments - staff, political, logistics and armaments - into 15 new agencies which will directly work under the Central Military Commission (CMC).
Xi Jinping, who also CMC Chairman, met the new bosses of each unit.
He described the reshuffle as ‘a breakthrough’ and ‘a crucial step’ toward a stronger military.
Xi added that all the military leaders should adhere to the Party spirit, obey political discipline, and be politically intelligent (sic)!
Xi urged the new leaders to ‘frequently, actively and resolutely’ align their direction with the CPC Central Committee and the CMC.
As mentioned earlier on this blog, the seven Military Area Commands are being replaced by five Combat Zones, primarily focusing on 'combat'.
The new Western Combat Zone will replace the two Military Area Commands today facing India in the High Himalaya (Chengdu and Lanzhou).
According to The South China Morning Post, General Zhao Zongqi will command the Western Combat Zone.
I re-posting an old piece on General Zhao.
That was a good prediction.
General Zhao should automatically become member of the CMC.
Here are the 15 New Units of the CMC
  1. General Office
  2. Joint General Staff
  3. Political Work Department
  4. Logistical Support Department
  5. Equipment Development Department
  6. Training Management Department
  7. Military Defense Mobilization Department
  8. Discipline Inspection Commission
  9. Politics and Law Commission
  10. Science and Technology  Commission
  11. Strategic Planning Office
  12. Reform and Establishment Office
  13. International Military Cooperation Office
  14. Auditing Administration Office
  15. Administration Affairs Management Office

General Zhao Zhongqi
General Zhao Zongqi: from Tibet to the CMC?
July 24, 2015
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece The Chinese who matter in Tibetan Affairs. Since then, several officials who ‘mattered’ have lost their job or have disappeared from the Chinese political scene.
The prime case is of course Ling Jihua, who from 2007 to 2012 served under President Hu Jintao, as Director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and in 2012, became Head of the United Front Work Department, dealing with Tibet among other subjects.
His son's car accident (with two Tibetan girls) signaled the beginning of his downfall.
Jia is now investigated for six violations of law and Communist Party discipline, including taking bribes, adultery and illegally acquiring a large number of ‘core secrets’ of the State and Party. It is what a Politburo statement, relayed by Xinhua, said.
The South China Morning Post rightly says: “The accusation that Ling illegally obtained the secrets surprised some observers, who said he was supposedly entitled to access to the information”.
This is one of the mysteries of Chinese politics.
Another Chinese who matters(ed) is/was General Wang Jianping, a member of the 18th CCP Central Committee. In 2009, he became Commander of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force with a bigger budget than the PLA.
His name has often been mentioned on this blog. (A good chess player takes the initiative?)
Apparently, in January 2015 Wang was ‘transferred’ as deputy head of a coordinating group on military training; it is obviously a great fall.
Interestingly on July 17, The Hong Kang Oriental Daily published an article on the military leadership changes in China. It was titled, “Three Phenomenon at the Center of Army Restructuring.”
It was later republished in the Mainland under a different title, “Xi Jinping’s Big Move: Jiang Zemin’s Closest Army Allies Are No longer in Power.”
The article says that Xi has assigned several senior military generals to insignificant positions: "Over the last six months, those in the most important leadership positions in the armed forces have all been replaced. Those officials who were close to Xi were promoted."
Wang Jianping is one clearly one of those who lost their seat.
Another powerful figure who has disappeared from my list is Lieutenant General Yang Jinshan. In October 2014, I wrote about The Fall of a Powerful General.
After serving as Commander of the Tibet Military Area, in June 2013, General Yang was transferred (on promotion) to Chengdu as a Deputy Commander of the Chengdu Military Region. He was one of the rising stars in the PLA
His fall is probably related to Xu Caihou’s case.
He was even demoted from the Party's Central Committee.
And there is also the case of Le Dake, the head of External Intelligence in Tibet. A few weeks ago, Reuters had reported that the former top Chinese security official in Tibet was being investigated ‘for suspected graft’.
The news agency explained that it is “a rare example of corruption busters going into the restive and remote region.”

The new rising star: General Zhao Zongqi
While some officials have sunk into oblivion, some are rising very fast.
It is the case of the Jinan Military Region’s Commander, Lieutenant General Zhao Zongqi, who, earlier in his career spent 20 years in Tibetan Military District.
Recently, General Zhao went on an inspection trip with General Fan Changlong.  
The South China Morning Post reported: “A top leader from the Jinan military area command accompanied Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, on an inspection trip to the northwest, raising speculation over a personnel reshuffle.”
According to The PLA Daily, Lieutenant General Zhao Zongqi accompanied Fan to inspect garrisons in Gansu, Xinjiang and Ningxia.
The article says that “Zhao, 60, is the youngest commander among top leaders from the key military areas. He is also one of a handful of senior military officials who took part in China's border conflicts with Vietnam in the late 1970s.”
His long stint in Tibet is not mentioned.
However, the Chinese press parried: “The pairing of the two [Fan and Zhao] on the trip fueled speculation over whether Zhao would be promoted to even higher rank.”
'Higher rank' can only mean 'Central Military Commission'.
Last year, I mentioned on this blog a high level tour of General Fan Changlong in Tibet. He was then accompanied by three Military Region Commanders (Lt. Gen. Liu Yuejun, commander of the Lanzhou Military Region, General Li Shiming, Commander, Chengdu Military Region and Lt. Gen. Zhao Zongqi, Commander, Jinan Military Region).
I then wondered what was the Jinan MR Commander was doing there.
This was soon after the Chumur incident in Ladakh during the visit of President Xi Jinping in India.
I then wrote: “The main purpose of General Fan's Tibet tour was most likely to convince the PLA officers that they should follow Xi Jinping in his crusade against corrupt officers.”
At that time, Xinhua reported that General Fan told the army to firmly obey the command of President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
China's senior-most general told the troops that “the army and the armed police should resolutely implement the strategies made by the CPC Central Committee and Xi, also the CMC Chairman, and uphold the correct decisions to investigate Zhou Yongkang and punish Xu Caihou.”
To follow the orders of Chairman Xi was important, said Fan; the defence forces should implement the instructions by achieving ‘Four [questions] to Ask’.
One of the ‘Four to Ask’ was “To ask oneself whether one follows the correct guiding ideology in training, whether the practices followed are correct to [avoid] other negative phenomena [i.e. corruption?]”.
Apparently General Zhao got it right; he probably answered the question the correct way.
As the result, he may soon be the first Chinese ‘Tibet hand’ reaching the PLA’s Heaven (the Central Military Commission).

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