The recent peaceful coup d'etat in Thailand attracted worldwide attention. Many Chinese associate the events in Thailand with China's current political situation, and are concerned that it may be an inspiration for a coup in China, and wonder if such a coup is possible in China. Feedback from mainland China's media and overseas Chinese reveals that the Chinese army has undergone tremendous changes in recent years.
Thai Coup D'Etat's Inspiration for China
According to a Liberation Daily newspaper report on September 20, after watching news of the Thai coup, teachers and students of a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) School in mainland China had a heated debate about this incident's inspiration for China.
One side believes that during the six years of Thaksin Shinawatra's rule, the Thai farmers' per capita income increased 60 percent. Shinawatra implemented a cheap healthcare plan with government subsidies. He won support in poor areas, mainly from farmers in northern Thailand, where most of the country's population lives. However the majority of the taxpayers—the middle class who live mainly in the south—did not get any tax breaks. They had grown resentful towards Prime Minister Shinawatra due to tax hikes.
This side believes that while stressing balanced development across the country and macroeconomic control, the Chinese regime should pay attention to ensure the development of coastal areas and the main large- and middle-sized cities. Otherwise, discontent from the residents in these developed areas may pose a threat to the regime.
The other side of the debate thinks that China is not Thailand. Since the majority of the officers and soldiers in the People's Liberation Army come from the poor countryside, the policies of macroeconomic control and balanced development are beneficial to the majority of the people. They feel there is no need to fear a coup in China.
There is also a view that the peaceful Thai coup was not met with public and political resistance because of the extreme corruption of Prime Minister Shinawatra. The Thai people had already completely abandoned him. From this perspective, the CCP Central Committee's ongoing effort to counter corruption is indeed a matter of substance that bears upon the survival or destruction of the CCP.
The other side thinks that only Shinawatra's family benefited from his corruption, so he was regarded as an enemy among the upper class. China is different however, since the corruption in China seems to be structural. Various interest groups benefit from it, hence in practice, the counter-corruption movement in China still has many difficulties and obstacles.
Will China Have a Military Coup Again?
According to China Times, the majority of mainland Chinese think a military coup is unimaginable. But in fact, this October 6 will be the 30th anniversary of the “Smashing the Gang of Four.” This movement occurred on October 6, 1976 and was named the “Smashing the Gang of Four” by the Chinese communist regime, but it is actually called the “October 6 Military Coup” by foreign historians. At the time, the Chinese military led by Ye Jianying suddenly arrested Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, Jiang Qing and Yao Wenyuan, the four people who were in power at the time.
Prior to this year's Army Day, the renowned political commentator Wu Fan said that the Chinese military, from the top to the bottom, is a private army and its mission is to protect a single party's regime, instead of the country and the people. Under the absolute leadership of the CCP, the Chinese army has deteriorated into a tool to kill ordinary people. After the reform and opening-up to the world, many high-ranking military officers have gone abroad and learned many things. They also realize that they could no longer be the guns beholden to the party. Many people inside the army intend to nationalize the army.
Wu Fan said that especially after the publication of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party there have been bigger changes within the military. Many high-ranking military officers have seen the trend, namely that in the future, the CCP will meet its demise, and they have therefore secretly withdrawn from the party. Also, not only do they need to rescue themselves, they also want to save China. Therefore, some military officers plan to overthrow the CCP using a military coup. Recently, some speeches published within the military, and articles published by the General Head of the Political Department, as well as the 30 doctrines announced last year, were all centering on those internal changes.
Military Coup's Inspiration to Young Military Officers
Mr. Zhang, who works for a famous foreign media organization said, “The military coup in Thailand could inspire some young military officers in China.” He continued, “This military coup is very different from the one 16 years ago in Burma. The military government formed then refused any democratic reform. Being an autocracy, it was therefore abandoned by the international society. But this time, the Thai military claimed the coup's purpose was to change the chaos and damage to the democratic system caused by Thaksin's abuse of power. Also from the very beginning, the military promised to return to democracy as soon as possible. Under these circumstances, the soldiers involved in the coup gained support from the king and over 80 percent of Thai people. If the Thai military can keep their promise, rebuild democracy as soon as possible, and ensure the economy's steady operation, then some young Chinese military officers will be highly interested in this 'Thai model.' Because many high-ranking officers in the Chinese communist regime know that the CCP will not last very long, they may feel that instead of sinking with the huge ship, they might be better off to stand up and take the initiative to seek a change.”
Wang Hua from the Service Center for Quitting the CCP said, “Among the people who have called to withdraw from the party, many come from military. They have lost all their hope in the communist party, saying that they want to save the country and nation using a military coup. But I think, the safest, lowest cost, and also the most efficient way is still to spread the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. As long as everyone recognizes the nature of the communist party, and all withdraw from it, it will disintegrate itself. Like the Thai coup, the regime will change overnight. But the premise is that everyday people wake up. That is the most important thing.”