With Promotion of General, Chinese Regime Tilts To West
With Promotion of General, Chinese Regime Tilts To West

Chinese soldiers on the streets of Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang Province in 2009. The Chinese regime may be inclined to a more westward focused strategy after the promotion of a general that supports this political line. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

Before the real transfer of power takes place at the 18th Party Congress, supposedly this fall, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has already promoted a number of lieutenant generals to general—among them Liu Yazhou, who among other things supports an aggressive defense posture against the United States, some form of democracy in China, and closer ties with the Islamic world.

Liu is political commissar of the National Defense Academy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and is known for promoting a Westward Strategy, or moving the nation’s development focus to Western China, partly because of his belief that U.S. influence in the Asian region is hampering China’s strategic expansion there.

He was promoted to general on July 30, in what outsiders see as a sign that his ideas are to some extent being accepted by Party leaders.

Along with the westward tilt is a plan to transform the western province of Ningxia into China’s Islamic Finance Center.

The newly promoted Gen. Liu’s idea of developing Western China would fit well with turning Ningxia into a Sino-Arab financial trade settlement center, according to Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily, in a commentary on Aug. 6.

Liu’s promotion to general shows his Westward Strategy is being accepted and supported, the Daily said.

In 2011, Sino-Arab trade totaled US$195.9 billion, making the Arab world China’s seventh largest trading partner, and making China the second largest trading partner of Arab countries.

Liu Yazhou is the son-in-law of Li Xiannian, former chairman of China (1909–1992). He is also a military commentator. It is believed that Liu is an important military ally to Xi Jinping, the presumptive next leader of the CCP. Both Liu and Xi are princelings.

Following the Wang Lijun scandal in February, Liu on April 16 wrote an article in Qiushi, a Communist Party ideological journal, saying the army must unconditionally obey the leader of the CCP, the Central Military Commission, and Party chief Hu Jintao. The article was understood as Liu showing his allegiance to Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping, in the wake of reports about of a failed political coup by Bo Xilai, former Chongqing Party secretary, and security chief Zhou Yongkang,

Since 2004 Liu has strongly advocated that China strategically move West. In his article “On Advance Toward The West,” he says Western China is not a frontier but a hinterland of China’s progress—developing Xinjiang and Tibet, befriending the Middle East, and becoming economically competitive in Central Asia.

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