While the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) military is conducting live-fire training drills, repeated remarks in military media reveal supreme commander Xi Jinping’s concern about the potential for mutiny and assassination by the armed forces once it is equipped with ammunition, political and military observers suggested.
On Sept. 4, the People’s Liberation Army Daily (PLA Daily) published an article that said all military units are required to tighten the “safety valves” to secure the “safety foundation.” It quoted Mr. Xi as emphasizing that the “security and stability of the armed forces” is “a political task” and needs to “address conflicts at its roots” and “eliminate the pitfalls to the end.”
The unusual comments from the top military propaganda came when some CCP units responded to Mr. Xi’s call for field training and live-fire exercises.
PLA Daily’s remark indicated that the drilling force uses “weapons and ammunition frequently.”
The so-called “security” referred to in the PLA Daily does not indicate a problem of ammunition misfiring but rather the fact that once the army is equipped with ammunition and firearms, it could strike back, said U.S.-based current affairs commentator Chen Pokong on Sept. 8.
“It’s a political security problem,” Mr. Chen said.
The military article talks about the “stability” of the army, which Mr. Chen sees as “a warning to the military, also a [personal] concern of Xi Jinping,” he said.
Yao Cheng, a lieutenant colonel in the former CCP’s Navy Command, shared a similar opinion that Mr. Xi sounded the alarm on political security through a Communist Party mouthpiece.
“It is publicly known that Xi Jinping is uneasy about the loyalty of the military, and he is worried about the security problem,” Mr. Yao told The Epoch Times on Sept. 8.
In addition, several political cases occurred in the army recently, shedding light on the fact that they are disloyal to Mr. Xi, acting against him in the shadows while being subservient on the surface, Mr. Yao added.
Xi’s Concerns Over Military DisloyaltyOn Sept. 6, PLA Daily reissued a commentary with an alarming title: “Insisting on Strictness, Strictness in All Aspects, and Strictness Thoroughly.”
The word “strictness” appeared 79 times, and “discipline” appeared 23 times throughout the text. The article claimed to be resolute in overcoming any feelings of “slackness, fatigue, and boredom on war preparedness,” as well as unsettling thoughts such as “shifting the wind direction,” and “downgrading or changing the tone” among the military.
Mr. Chen said the “slackness, fatigue, and boredom on war preparedness” are reminiscent of the successive political cases in the CCP’s Rocket Force, the Strategic Resource Corps, and the Western Theater. For instance, “officers and soldiers of the Western Theater—gearing toward India—are generally war-weary, so Xi Jinping has replaced four commanders in the theater, which he appointed himself before.”
As for the sentiment of “shifting the wind direction” and “downgrading or changing the tone” in the military, in Mr. Chen’s view, the CCP’s constant advocation of war preparation makes the army very nervous, so the military hopes that this “wind direction” can be changed and the warmongering “tone” can be lowered or pivot to a tone of peace.
In other words, the Chinese army is sick of war, and Mr. Xi, the chairman of the CCP military commission, makes them uncomfortable, so the army would consider changing their leader, according to Mr. Chen.
Therefore, Mr. Xi fears a coup d'état or an assassination attempt.
At the same time, the remarks by the CCP mouthpiece are designed to warn the military to quench such expectations and abandon any efforts for stop-gap measures.
Despite Mr. Xi’s “strict” precautionary stance toward the military, Mr. Yao told The Epoch Times that the Chinese communist head is actually in danger, saying that over the ten years since Mr. Xi came to power, China has been plagued with a chaotic mess. The people who are most dissatisfied with this situation are inside the CCP, especially those with vested interests, particularly the red generation of the princeling party.
To Mr. Xi, the pressure of being sieged comes from within the CCP, from the CCP’s military forces, and to a lesser extent from outside China, according to Mr. Yao.
Recent Occurrences in CCP MilitaryMr. Chen said the article in the PLA Daily revealed severe problems with the CCP’s military, which are entirely out of sync with Mr. Xi’s call for fighting and preparedness in the Taiwan Strait and the U.S.-China policy of confrontation.
The CCP’s discipline body hasn't made public statements about the recent investigations of CCP generals.
On Aug. 31, when asked about the whereabouts of Wei Fenghe, a former defense minister who had not been seen for months, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense did not give a direct answer but claimed that “We will investigate every case and crack down on every corrupt official,” “zero tolerance of corruption,” Reuters reported.
Mr. Qin was reportedly relieved of his duties on July 24, a month after his disappearance.
The two officials were both promoted by Mr. Xi. However, they still faced a reckoning. “This harsh political atmosphere is becoming more and more like the time when former [CCP] leader Mao Zedong was in power, and no one was safe,” Mr. Cai said.
The “disappeared status” of Mr. Wei and Mr. Li is not a good sign for Mr. Xi, said Zhang Tianliang, a U.S.-based current affairs commentator, on Sept. 8, indicating that should Mr. Li and Mr. Wei be investigated, the military could initiate a big incident such as a coup d'état.
“Xi Jinping is turning the knife inward, cleaning out his own promoted generals, which is equivalent to fighting with his generals.
“This shows that Mr. Xi’s grip on the military is not as strong as we imagined, which is also a sign that the foundation of Mr. Xi’s power is precarious,” Mr. Zhang said.
On July 28, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying that the Rocket Force’s commander, Li Yuchao, and deputy commander Liu Guangbin, along with Zhang Zhenzhong, deputy chief of staff of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, had already been taken away in March for investigation.
On July 31, Mr. Xi appointed a new commander and a new political commissar of the Rocket Force: Wang Houbin and Xu Xisheng, both ascended to the rank of general that day.
Insiders believe the move indirectly confirms that the Rocket Force’s former commander and former political commissar—Mr. Li Yuchao and Mr. Xu Zhongbo—have been dismissed and penalized.
Besides cases of “vanishing senior generals,” some unveiled and unexplained deaths are worth noting.
The 66-year-old Wu Guohua, a former deputy commander of the Rocket Force who had retired from the army three years ago, died of disease on July 4 in Beijing, according to the official obituary released three weeks later.
For the cause of Mr. Wu’s death, Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily said in a July 30 report that Mr. Wu hung himself at his home, citing a note written by Zhang Xiaoyang, son of Zhang Zhen, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.