Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin – Chapter 10

Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.
Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin – Chapter 10
(Luis Novaes/Epoch Times)

Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.


Chapter 10: Indulgence and Corruption Pervade the Armed Forces; Desires Bring Ruin to the “Great Iron Wall” (1998)

Jiang Zemin knew very well that he had no prestige or qualifications in the military. Most senior military leaders had fought on the battlefield. And most had solid connections with other military leaders, which particularly Jiang lacked. Both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping once commanded large military forces and had earned the respect of China’s servicemen. In contrast, Jiang lacked not only the political background each had but also their experience in the military. Never had he so much as laid his hands on a gun.

In most normal modern societies a ruling party can only form a government by means of democratic elections. The different voices in society serve to monitor the ruling political party’s administrative authority. Poor management of the government can mean impeachment or removal from office. The military in these countries belongs to the state and not to any political party. The military’s mission is to safeguard the people’s interests and defend the country’s borders. Thus, neither conflicts among political parties nor internal conflict within any one party generally involves the military. Irrespective of which party’s candidate is elected, the military’s loyalty to the nation and obedience to the command of the nation’s highest authoritative organization as stipulated by the constitution are imperative. This is one reason democratic countries can remain politically stable despite having what are at times heated debates and tensions among parties.

However, China’s military is different from that of nations in the West. In reality, China’s only military is of the CCP and not of the nation itself. Thus the military serves as a tool of the Party as it seeks to benefit itself. The Chinese Communist Party has always emphasized that Party branches are to be established at the level of the company. Going back some time, Mao Zedong postulated the formula that “The Party commands the gun.” In other words, he who has the upper hand in controlling the military will decidedly be the victor in any intra-Party political struggle. If military power is not within one’s grasp, one’s political future lies in the hands of others.

So it was that Jiang Zemin was deeply concerned. But Jiang had his own means to control the military.

1. Promoting Officials to Gain Their Allegiance

Promotion in the military is an important matter. It is granted for meritorious achievements such as labor on bloody battlefields and protecting citizens’ homes and the welfare of the nation.

During Mao’s time, those who were made marshals and generals had surmounted untold dangers before achieving their prominent ranks. Promoted individuals would cherish the promotion and feel dignified by it. Servicemen knew that during peaceful times, times when there were few opportunities to demonstrate strength, promotion to the rank of General was no easy thing. However, under Jiang’s rule this would change, as sycophancy quickly became a shortcut to promotion in the military. The promotions of Zhang Wannian, Guo Boxiong, and You Xigui—each the product of favoritism rather than military accomplishments—are widely known among the military. The most extreme case is that of Commander Major-General Guo Boxiong of the 47th military unit. Guo was promoted to Vice Chairman of the Military Commission for merely standing guard for Jiang during the leader’s afternoon nap.

Since the restoration of the military’s ranking system in 1988, the Central Military Commission (CMC) has appointed 96 high-ranking officers to the military and police ranks of General. Alongside the 17 high-ranking officers who were appointed Generals by Deng Xiaoping on Sept. 14, 1988, the other 79 Generals were appointed by Jiang between 1993 and 2004. As for Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals, hundreds were made thus in Jiang’s era—almost as if the move was part of a casual game.

On June 7, 1993, Jiang awarded six high-ranking officers the military rank of General. One year later, on June 8, 1994, Jiang conferred titles to 19 Generals in succession.

On Jan. 23, 1996, in a whimsical moment, Jiang said to those around him, “Today, let’s promote several people to General for our own enjoyment. What do you think?” Those around him were largely sycophants, and so their answer was a sure affirmation. Immediately Jiang conferred four persons with the rank of General. It was that day that Political Commissioner Sui Yongju of the Second Artillery Corps rose from Lieutenant General to the rank of General.

On Oct. 24, 1997—in one single day—Jiang promoted 152 people to General. Children of former high-ranking officials and those with family connections were specifically targeted by Jiang for support. For example, He Long’s son, He Pengfei, was enlisted in the military only after the collapse of the Gang of Four in 1976. He had served in the military for less than 20 years, yet in just one promotion he became Vice Admiral Deputy Commander. By as early as 1997 Jiang had conferred 530 persons with the ranks of General, Lieutenant General, or Major General.

On March 27, 1998, the CMC held a ceremony to promote 10 high-ranking military and police officers to the rank of General. On Sept. 29, 1999, two were promoted to positions as Generals and on June 21, 2000, the CMC held a ceremony to promote 16 high-ranking military and police officers to the rank of General.

On June 2, 2002, seven people were promoted to the rank of General. Senior military cadres were said to be indignant upon witnessing Jiang, during the televised ceremony, using only one hand to present the certificates of promotion to the recipients. They remarked, “Jiang Zemin doesn’t even know the most basic protocol. This is not solemn at all.”

On June 20, 2004, just before Jiang stepped down from office, he promoted 15 military and police officers to the rank of General, among whom was his trusted follower You Xigui.

Many of those conferred so flippantly with rankings and titles didn’t regard the designation as the honor it was supposed to be. They knew in their hearts that such promotional honors were not dispensed according to their merits, but rather purely as prize—a prize meant to create allegiance. It for this reason they took the honors lightly and conducted themselves in a manner anything but serious at the award ceremonies.

The promotion of veteran generals in the past was based on abilities, and recipients enjoyed immense prestige; their commands were met with uniform obedience. Now, however, officials will use whatever means possible to gain promotion. They have little respect for one another, they slander one another, create obstacles for one another’s work, refuse to cooperate, are jealous of each other, and undermine one another. One might ask: what sort of might could the military achieve with people of such caliber? A military of this sort won’t manage to win battles no matter how modernized their weapons may be.

2. Leniency on Smuggling and Graft

The military’s entrepreneurial activities started in the mid 1980s. [1] The initial objective was to offset the military’s expenditures. Senior officials of the CCP were optimistic as to the endeavor’s potential and commended it for “sustaining the military within the military.” Some senior military figures, such as Yang Shangkun and Wang Zhen, frequently wrote messages, slogans, or names in their own calligraphy for the military enterprises in a show of encouragement. After Jiang Zemin became Chairman of the Military Commission, he took advantage of his authority and loopholes in the military enterprises so as to gain full control of the military. Jiang gave many undue benefits to soldiers, allowing the military to wantonly indulge in trading, and fostering corruption within its ranks. Jiang figured that, should these people become insatiably greedy, what with all their embezzling, they would come to rely on him, and feel grateful. Contrary to what he expected, however, problems spiraled out of control: never before was the military so corrupt. Smuggling by the navy on China’s southwestern seaboard became more rampant than pirating, while smuggling by the army in the north grew worse than that of bandits.

At a meeting on smuggling, Premier Zhu Rongji said that in just the first six months of 1998, guns and artillery formerly belonging to the military had killed 450 customs staff, police, and other law enforcement personnel, while injuring another 2,200. The military also used its meteorological observatory for its own private purposes, forged the Premier’s signature, and stamped documents using the seal of the Military Commission’s Vice Chairman so as to fraudulently withdraw some 2 billion yuan (US$230 million). Incredibly, all of these matters were covered up upon being brought to Jiang’s attention. The problems China faced in the form of pirates, gangs, and corrupt local officials now paled in comparison to the activities of the military.

On July 26, 1998, the North Sea Fleet of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy sent four artillery ships, two submarine chasers, and a 4,000 ton military transport ship to escort four oil tankers that were smuggling oil from northern Europe. The oil tankers were filled with 70,000 tons of refined oil.

Every coincidence tells a story, of course. The oil tankers crossed the path of 12 counter-smuggling patrol boats that had been sent by the Ministry of Public Security and China’s Customs General Administration. The counter-smuggling gunboat shouted to the navy, asking it to cooperate with the inspection. The navy replied, “You shouldn’t act rashly unless you have orders from the Central Military Commission and the Naval Headquarters!”

The confrontation came to a standstill for about 15 minutes, during which the Navy, still escorting the smuggling oil tankers, urgently sought instructions from its land-based leaders. Superiors were afraid to make the decision, however, so the Naval officers sought instructions from senior military officials in Beijing. They received a simple and straightforward order, with not an ounce of ambiguity: “Fire at them, fire till they’re destroyed!”

One of the four artillery ships quickly aimed its cannons at the control vessel of the Customs and Public Security Ministry and fired several rounds of ammunition. Almost simultaneously, the Navy’s transport ship and three other artillery ships advanced at full speed towards and rammed into the Customs’s patrol boats. The battle lasted a full 59 minutes. The confrontation, which took place in the Huanghai Sea, resulted in 87 deaths and injuries. Despite the casualties no punishment was meted out to anyone involved.

Ironically, among the unfortunate 13 souls from the Customs and Public Security Ministry that were lost that day, was one surnamed Deng. He was the fifth generation descendent of Deng Shichang, a national hero in the Qing Dynasty navy who fought and died in the Naval Battle of 1894—a fight which took place in the same area of the sea.

On July 13, 1998, at a CCP Central Committee meeting Premier Zhu Rongji confirmed that the United Front Work Department had smuggled 10,000 cars into China and shared the 2.32 billion yuan (US$267 million) in profit from it with the Political Consultative Conference and Party Leadership Group. The military is the largest player amongst all contingents involved in smuggling. At the national workshop on smuggling in September 1998, Zhu said that in recent years the total annual amount smuggled amounted to 800 billion yuan, of which the military accounted for the majority—at least 500 billion. At the 33 percent tax rate then in place, tax evasion came out to roughly 160 billion. The money was not used to subsidize the military, but instead, some 80 percent of it went into the pockets of military officials at various levels.

There was no product that the military would not smuggle. Even narcotics were not excluded. According to a March 28, 2001, BBC News account, the National Security Adviser of the Philippines, Roilo Golez, said that the Chinese military personnel were running operations producing illegal drugs in five provinces of eastern China. These plants supplied US$1.2 billion worth of methamphetamines to the Philippines every year. Golez expressed a wish that China would cease shipments of narcotics into the Philippines. He said that if drug smuggling from China could be reduced by 50 percent, the Philippines would solve half of its narcotics problems. Later the government of the Philippines repeatedly sent representatives to Beijing to discuss and protest the ongoing drug smuggling and operations by China’s military. A military led by Jiang Zemin.

Smuggling by the military was simply a shortcut for military officials to get rich. Another shortcut was profiteering from military enterprises.

One captain at a missile launching camp in the Nanjing Military Region set up the Yixing Chinese People’s Great Wall Corporation. He obtained a large bank loan by offering liberal shares of his illicit proceeds. Thus it was that a mere captain was able to embezzle a stunning 300 million yuan. Other examples abound. The Director of the Administrative Office of the Military Commission, Dong Liangju, had nine luxurious villas built in national scenic spots around the country, and this, alongside owning 15 luxury cars. The commander of the Guangdong Military Region used funds embezzled from economic entities to buy six garden villas and four luxury cars. The vice president of the Military Academy of Sciences imported US$120,000 worth of interior decor materials from Italy. The deputy commander of the Second Artillery Corps arranged for his family to shop in Europe and America, to the tune of US$250,000. When seven military officials from the Guangdong Military Region moved residences, they spent US$1.2 million merely on bathroom renovations; on average each household spent US$180,000 on sanitary equipment imported from Italy.

In November 1998, the Minister of Defense and Vice Chairman of China’s CMC, Chi Haotian, said at a Military Commission and Military Discipline Inspection Commission meeting in Xishan, Beijing, that “Since 1994, 80 percent of the assets and profits generated by the military’s economic entities have been embezzled and divided amongst senior and middle-level officials. Every year senior and middle-level officials have spent 50 percent of the entire expenses of the military on food and drinks, overseas tours, luxury homes, and luxury cars.”

In 1998, the military spent a total of 131 billion yuan in budgeted and unbudgeted expenses, making that 50 percent figure around 65.5 billion in illicit expenditures. Moreover, the public funds embezzled from military-operated economic entities amounted to 186.4 billion. In other words, the total amount squandered by military officials was, shockingly, two times the military’s 1998 budget of 94 billion. By the end of March 1999, the Military Procuratorate had recorded 2,170 major cases of corruption, diversion of public funds, and public funds absconded to overseas. That year alone 24 Major Generals or senior officials fled overseas, bringing with them enormous amounts of embezzled public funds.

Under the leadership of CMC Chairman Jiang Zemin, generals of all levels busied themselves jockeying for promotions and laundering money.

Zhu Rongji noticed that the military’s business operations were disrupting the normal economic order of things. In 1996 he thus proposed that the military cease its entrepreneurial activities, only to find that his proposal garnered no support. The problem then worsened. In 1998 Zhu felt that the problem should continue no further, and thus, once again, brought up the matter with Jiang, asking in strong terms that the military’s business activities be ceased.

Finally, in July 1998, in the “National Counter-¬Smuggling Working Conference,” Jiang announced that the military, paramilitary police, and judicial and public security systems were no longer allowed to engage in entrepreneurial operations. The systems were to disengage themselves by the end of December 1998, transferring all such operations to local governments in China.

Although Jiang was taking a different stance than he initially had—no longer allowing the military to engage in business activities—his motive was the same as it always was. In his book The Man Who Changed China, Robert Kuhn makes much fanfare of Jiang’s banning of the military’s entrepreneurial activities, making it out to be something of a great accomplishment. But in so doing Kuhn turns the truth inside out.

Jiang’s initial motive for allowing the military involvement in business activities was to foster a corrupt environment in which he could more easily build a following and wantonly confer military titles. He needed a military that didn’t emphasize formal training or the strengthening of military prowess. And it was the resultant mess—a corrupt military—that gave the inexperienced CMC Chairman fertile soil for fostering his own faction.

With time Jiang grew afraid, however, that the military’s business operations would make it more independent—something detrimental to Jiang’s exertion of control over it. Thus he wished to sever its sources of income so that the military would have no choice but to depend on him for the allocation of funds and would have to then, in turn, obey his orders. Banning the military’s business activities was a way out for Jiang. And what’s more, it was a prime chance to boost his authority in the military. Jiang had become confident by that point, having nurtured his faction in the military for years. Jiang held in his hands all the top political positions, what with Yang Shangkun and Yang Baibing having fallen and Deng Xiaoping having passed away. Thus Jiang, at the insistence of Zhu Rongji, finally made his decision to put a stop to the military’s business activities. The move came only after careful deliberation over whether it would benefit or harm Jiang personally.

Just to play it safe, however, Jiang resorted to his usual tactics. He asked Hu Jintao, who was fifth in rank in the Standing Committee of the Politburo, to handle the thorny issue; this allowed Jiang to hide out behind the scenes. At the time Hu was neither a vice chairman nor a committee member of the Military Commission, nor a vice-premier. He was responsible only for CCP affairs. Hu thus had to brace himself and snatch profits from the military’s jaws. Jiang had always regarded Hu as a thorn in his side, as Hu was personally appointed by Deng as Jiang’s successor. For this reason Jiang would ask Hu to act on his behalf whenever difficult issues arose. In name, he was providing Hu with “training opportunities.” In reality, had the military reacted with radical means or chosen to obstruct things, the arrangement meant that Jiang would not be held directly responsible. Hu would be the scapegoat. And along with that Jiang could potentially strip Hu of his “successor” title. The tactic was used by Jiang several times, in fact. Hu, who is by nature discreet, was fortunate not to encounter any mishaps in the years before he assumed office.

Among the 20,000 military enterprises then existing, by the end of 1998 less than 5,000 had completed or nearly completed the transfer of business activities to local governments. As the military enterprises were independent enterprises with independent accounting units and many special privileges, they had no involvement with local industry or commerce and revenue departments. The recording of assets, distribution, and profit was terribly disorderly. Even when local governments wanted to check the accounting practices of such entities, the task was daunting: whenever the military’s vested interests were involved, military officials would create problems and obstacles, or feign compliance, making it extremely hard to audit their accounts. Furthermore, excessive probing could be labeled “meddling with military secrets.” The local government could only conduct the verification in a perfunctory manner, as too much investigation would benefit no one. Ultimately the effort to disengage the military from commercial activities was abandoned.

3. The Uneven Division of Illegal Funds Brings Bloodshed

Between Feb. 2–22, 1999, the CCP issued three consecutive, urgent decrees to the military.

On Feb. 2, the State Council and the CMC issued an urgent notice, titled “Halt Harmful Fighting Over the Military’s Capital and Assets.” Six days later the General Staff Department, General Political Department, General Logistics Department, and General Armament Department issued a subsequent order: “Be Resolute in Investigating and Handling Illegal Activities, Including Contending for, Sharing, or Transferring Capital and Assets Within Military Enterprises.” Then on Feb. 22, the State Council and CMC issued yet another urgent notice: “Immediately Stop Contention Over Capital and Assets in the Businesses; Severely Punish According to Law Anyone Using Weapons to Contend for Capital and Property.”

In 1998, after the military, paramilitary police, and public security bureaus were in principle disengaged from business operations, the property held by those economic entities was divided up within the military. The greed of the military and paramilitary police had by then already been roused, and so they frequently resorted to violence to resolve disputes over the sharing of liquidated property. Frequently, life-threatening violence erupted. Those involved employed guns, artillery, and even armored vehicles as they fought one another.

Jiang Zemin ruled the military with corruption; the high-ranking military officials that he roped in were certainly not promoted on the basis of their abilities. What a frightening prospect, then, to think that weapons were being placed in the hands of those morally-degenerate people. The following are several small examples that suggest the severity of the problem.

The Deputy Political Commissar of the Guangdong Military Region and the Deputy Political Commissar of South China Naval Fleet led their subordinates to a bar to divide the illicit property they had acquired. The Zhuhai Garrison Command staff were the facilitators. A small disagreement came about, with the result that officials from both parties struck one another’s heads with beer bottles. Several sustained skull fractures while others oozed blood. The Guangdong Military Region Logistic Headquarters department head, named Tang, and the director of the Zhanjiang Naval Base Political Department, named Xiao, both died from excessive blood loss and the injuries to their heads.

Major general Cui Guodong, Deputy Military Commander of the 13th Army Corps, flew to Xichang City on Nov. 28, 1998, to demand 20 million yuan from the Deputy Director of the Xichang Military Sub-Region Logistic Headquarters, a man named Song. The two quarreled, with Song being the quicker and more skilled of the two at drawing a gun. Within moments Cui and a security guard, Jiang Guomin, lay on the ground, dead, from Song’s bullet fire. The matter alarmed the chief of the CMC General Staff, Fu Quanyou, General Political Department deputy director Wang Ruilin, and Military Discipline Inspection Commission secretary, Zhou Ziyu. They immediately flew to Xichang.

Another symptomatic incident was the major explosion that occurred at the 656 Airbase Radar Station in Xianning City, Hubei Province, where more than 1,000 officers and soldiers and 10-plus helicopters joined together to fight the ensuing fire. More than 120 people were killed or injured. The economic losses were immeasurable. The whole affair owed to an official at the logistics department of the Chuxiong Missile Base (in Yunnan Province) being punished for embezzling money that his supervisor had wished to snare for himself. The official was bitter over the punishment he received. On Sunday, April 5, 1998, when no one was in the camp, he set the storage room on fire in retaliation. The fire, which was set in the early morning, blazed until 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

And so it came to be that under the leadership and direction of CMC Chairman Jiang Zemin officers of the “People’s Military” died not on the battlefield or defending their country, but instead in the throes of internal warfare over illegally-acquired wealth. Incidents such as those described here have occurred in nearly all of China’s provinces and regions. Narrating all of their details is impossible, of course. Here we will cite a few more representative cases to illustrate the extent of the problem.

In Eastern China’s Anhui Provincial Military Region, the Hefei City Garrison Command and the Anhui Province Paramilitary Police Unit were under the domain of the East China Military Region. The three parties formed a partnership for business purposes. Prior to 1998, when the group had to transfer the business to the local government, the provincial military region had handled its finances. Before the time of its handover, the head of the Anhui Provincial Military Region had embezzled 75 percent of the enterprise’s property and offered only the remaining 25 percent to the other two parties. Those who refused the offer had to face the barrel of a gun. The three parties scuffled at an assembly hall of the Anhui Provincial Military Region, resulting in the death or injury of over 30 military officers.

In northwestern China the Lanzhou City Military Region and the Gansu Provincial Military Region jointly operated a business. On Jan. 15, 1999, on the eve of the handover of the enterprise to local government, the head of the Lanzhou Military Region sent the military to the Provincial Military Region to snatch more than 30 brand-new cars. Almost at the same time, the Provincial Military Region sent out several military vehicles and trucks to the 075 Warehouse in the Lanzhou Military Region, intending to snatch steel. The two parties encountered each other on a narrow road. Without exchanging a word they opened fire on one another, resulting in 72 casualties; 12 military officers were among those who died.

In the southwest, the Zunyi Garrisons and the Guizhou Provincial Military Region started a gunfight in the garrison building over who would land 2.6 million yuan in graft. More than 90 persons perished, among whom were 52 officers and soldiers.

In the northeast, the Jinxi Garrisons in Liaoning Province and Second Artillery Corps jointly operated a business. Prior to the reassignment of the business, the Jinxi Garrisons had embezzled some half a million yuan. The Second Artillery Corps sent its entire staff to surround the garrison building, which they did for over 70 hours. Fortunately missiles couldn’t be fired in such close combat. The commander of Shenyang Military Region and the commander of the Second Artillery Corps were so disturbed upon receiving word of the incident that they rushed to the scene via helicopter.

At 11 p.m. on Sept. 7, 1997, a fight broke out among the Shenyang Garrison Command, the 116th Division of the 39th Armed Corps, and paramilitary police of Liaoning Province over how to divide up some 120 million yuan in profits. The scuffle involved 350 military servicemen, 37 military vehicles, and two armored vehicles. The 116th Division dispatched 250 officers and soldiers. The Deputy Regiment Commander, surnamed Jiang, of the Mechanized Troop lost his life upon the first gunshot. The paramilitary police’s weapons proved inferior, and more than 40 people were killed or injured.

In Western China, at noon on Nov. 22, 1997, the military headquarters of the 28th Armed Corps in Xiping (a suburb of Datong, in Shanxi Province) were bombed due to an internal strife. A building on the east side was destroyed, and 63 servicemen died. Among them were a CCP Committee Office director and a Senior Colonel, named Gong.

China Air Force Hangars Center, the biggest of its kind in Asia and second in the world, is located in Sheqi, outside of Anyang City in Henan Province of central China. Construction of the Center began in August 1990 and was completed in December 1994, costing 80 billion yuan. The center has 22-level airplane hangars and can store 350 airplanes. The ground aircraft parking area can store 160 fighter planes, attack planes, and bombers. At 11 p.m. on Aug. 3, 1996, in the Seventh Duty Office at the southwest part of the Center, two officers quarreled over the uneven division of illegally obtained funds; the money came from business deals made in collaboration with another military unit outside the Center. The heated exchange ended up in the use of firearms, which set off an explosion that ignited a fire. The fire further ignited, in turn, a larger explosion still and more fire, setting off a chain reaction of explosions and fire. This went on for some eight hours, ceasing only the next morning. At 7:20 in the morning Air Force Commander Yu Zhenwu and the Chief of the General Staff, Fu Quanyou, rushed to the scene. What they discovered was devastation. Eighty-one airplanes had been destroyed in the explosions, and 90 servicemen were injured or killed. Direct economic losses were put at 1.1 billion yuan. The incident cost China one sixtieth of its entire 5,000 aircraft fleet.

Official reports state that the military’s performance in training with and technical testing of live ammunition has been on the decline and failed to meet the standards of the CMC. Violation of laws and discipline remains high. There continues to be a stream of incidents such as desertions and the firing of weapons where prohibited.

More disturbing still is that although military expenditures for all major military regions and army groups have continued to increase, expenditures have not been put toward actively conducting training and technical combat exercises but instead toward the vigorous promotion of a large-scale weight loss campaign for military officers and cadres. The activities were divided into three levels: the company and battalion; the regiment and division; and the armed forces. Those who managed to lose five kilograms would be rewarded 1,000 to 2,000 yuan; seven and a half kilograms of weight reduction met with a reward of 2,000 to 5,000 yuan; and a 10 kilogram reduction would be rewarded with 5,000 to 10,000 yuan.

With Jiang Zemin employing methods such as these to manage the military, what chances has the military to succeed in real combat should the need arise?

4. Wanton Indulgence in Sensual Pleasures

On Sept. 24, 2004, the Liberation Army Daily published an article, titled “An Overview of Jiang Zemin’s 15-Year Leadership in National Defense and Building the Military.” The superficiality of the article, however, pointed to but one issue. Quoting from the article: “[We] must highly value the military’s political ideology; we must give it the highest priority in the building of the military.” Or, as put elsewhere in the article: “[The military’s] ideology should be firmly consistent with the political ideals of the Central CCP.” Since the Central CCP has to “take comrade Jiang Zemin as the core,” the so-called “military ideology” in reality means absolute obedience to Jiang. As long as the military was politically reliable, everything else would be easy for Jiang.

Under Jiang’s guidance, the military involved itself in the sex industry to an extent never seen before. The General Staff Department, General Logistics Department, and General Political Department of the PLA found themselves wrapped up in the pleasures of sex and sensual indulgence. Evidently, the debauchery and degradation characterizing society at large similarly eroded the “Great Iron Wall”—a CCP term for its military. For example, as of 1995 15 “recreational venues” were being run by agencies under the control of the Third Division of the General Staff Department, employing 476 escort hostesses.

The military had many different grades of clubs, guesthouses, hotels, and holiday resorts, all of which competed to provide high-ranking officials with erotic pleasures.

On Nov. 1, 2001, the State Council and CMC issued an urgent notice banning night clubs run by the police and military. A working group was set up to oversee the process. Zhu Rongji was appointed the group leader, with Chi Haotian, Luo Gan, Fu Quanyou, Zhou Ziyu, and Yu Yongbo being appointed deputy group leaders.

On Nov. 2, the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff Department of the PLA similarly issued a notice, titled “Strictly Execute Orders of the Central CCP and Reorganize Night Clubs, Guesthouses, and Holiday Resorts.” The establishments affected by the ban, or reorganization, were mainly built in the 1990s after Jiang became Chairman of the CMC. The construction of such establishments reached a peak under Jiang as early as 1997.

These debauched, pleasure-proffering outlets were divided into three classes: top grade; high grade; and second-high grade. There were some eight “top-grade” outlets and over 30 “high-grade” ones in the country. In the top-grade clubs, guesthouses, and holiday resorts, customers were provided with around-the-clock, year-round service. The high-grade and second-high-grade outlets were entertaining at full capacity every day of the year. A variety of services were provided to patrons depending on their ranks. Those holding honorary club cards, which meant lifetime membership, needed only to sign their names; expenses incurred for food, drinks, and other pleasures were on the house.

Top-grade and high-grade establishments were equipped with clinics with highly qualified military doctors, emergency medical units, and ambulances. Top-grade clubs even operated Z-9 helicopters for emergencies. The interior design and decoration of these venues were luxurious and exquisite. The service attendants, assistant managers, and nursing attendants were all unmarried young women. Those selected had to go through “political screening”—as it was called—and were picked specially from the Police and Military Cultural Work Group, the Police and Military Health School, and government agencies in medium-sized or small cities. Those selected had to go through training in culture, literary arts, etiquette, and public relations.

The Central CCP was compelled to ban these military and police clubs following the resolution to “rectify the character” of the Party, a measure adopted at the 6th CCP Plenary Conference. The move was strategic as much as value-driven, as all along there had been strong objection to the establishments from other CCP members and military staff. Even though security was tight at these places, word leaked out about their operations. And things were more complicated still in that military personnel from other areas were following in the footsteps of their superiors by establishing clubs of their own on military bases. Most any official on vacation or celebrating holidays most anywhere could thus enjoy lustful pleasures. The degenerate practice was seriously affecting, for the worse, military morale. Young women were committing suicide after being raped or seduced at the night clubs, guesthouses, and holiday resorts.

Many senior generals, such as Hong Xuezhi, Xiao Ke, Liao Hansheng, Yang Chengwu, and Yang Baibing, had expressed strong disapproval of the establishments, saying that Jiang Zemin had “destroyed the Great Wall in his own hands.” But by then Jiang had already, via a combination of tactics, stripped those generals who opposed him of their power.

5. Using Forced Retirements and Money to Silence “Noise”

Some senior military chiefs who had great prestige and wielded solid power were extremely dissatisfied with Jiang’s corrupt management of the military. Their subordinates in kind disdained Jiang. Jiang, for his part, regarded them as a thorn in his side, yet he feared they would join forces and oppose him. Not daring to use hard-line tactics, he used “soft” approaches to handle them.

Jiang’s plan was to give the generals a promotion before asking them to retire and surrender their military power. Jiang would then bring in his own clique and take over things. In order to consolidate his position in the military, Jiang would, batch by batch, promote those officials who pledged loyalty to him. By this means he instituted a major “blood change” in the military.

In July 2001, Jiang ordered the Central CCP and the State Council to issue special subsidies of three different scales (500,000 yuan, 300,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan) to 332 widows of deceased senior CCP statesmen and generals. The subsidies were intended to silence any objections the widows might voice.

By mid-August, Yu Ruomu (Chen Yun’s widow), Liu Ying (Zhang Wentian’s widow), Lin Yueqin (Luo Ronghuan’s widow), Li Zhao (Hu Yaobang’s widow), Wang Guangmei (Liu Shaoqi’s widow), and about 50 other widows of senior statesmen and generals returned in full the special subsidy they had received. They requested that the money be donated anonymously to impoverished students in northwestern China who were admitted to college but who couldn’t afford college tuition. The remaining 270 widows accepted the special subsidy. After that Jiang seemed to be more at peace.

By the eve of the Chinese New Year in 2002, the Central Organizational Ministry, headed by Zeng Qinghong, had raised a considerable sum of money—between 17 million and 25 million yuan. The funds came from confidential sources. The sum of money was distributed under the pretense that Jiang, in his capacity as Chairman, cared and concerned for veteran cadres. It was extended selectively to those who could potentially affect voting in the forthcoming 16th CCP National Congress. The money was not widely distributed, for who received it and how much were decided by Jiang and Zeng in advance.

High-level secretaries have disclosed that those who received the money were those holding important positions, wielding wide influence, or who had much power and had frequently objected to and hindered Jiang and Zeng.

6. Murdering Yang Shangkun by Plot

After Yang Shangkun was forced to step down, Jiang Zemin was still very much afraid of him. Zeng Qinghong expressed his view that if Yang were not done away with he could, eventually, cause trouble. But it would be risky for Jiang and Zeng to take action against Yang while Deng Xiaoping was still alive.

When Deng passed away in February 1997, 92-year-old Yang Shangkun was still in good health. He had long been displeased with Jiang’s arbitrary promotion of generals, bribing people for support, and attacks on those who disagreed with him. Yang would often rebuke Jiang at gatherings of senior cadres. One day in the latter half of 1998, during a large gathering of senior military cadres not attended by Jiang, Yang again criticized Jiang. He said that if Jiang, as Chairman of the CMC, were to continue on as he was, the military would be ruined. Zeng’s informants had by that time infiltrated everywhere. Yang’s words thus quickly reached the ears of Jiang.

Jiang knew that although the brothers Yang Shangkun and Yang Baibing were already stripped of their military power at the 14th National Congress of the CCP, their influence in the military was still potentially strong. Jiang also knew that he had incurred the dissatisfaction and hatred of many people with his disparaging attacks on Zhao Ziyang and Yang Shangkun. The attacks had resulted in their downfall, and thereby effected the transfer of power in the CCP, the government, and the military to himself. If Yang Shangkun, who held the positions of First Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chairman of the Nation, were to gather forces to suppress Jiang, little could Jiang have warded him off. Though Jiang often had Bo Yibo, another Party elder, giving him advice, he had, after all, no military background or power. Moreover, Bo, who attacked Hu Yaobang hard when Hu was down, still was reviled by many people.

After deliberate planning, Jiang decided to seize upon an opportunity to get rid of Yang and preclude future trouble. While Jiang’s plot might have been very careful, his conspiracy nevertheless gave him away in the end. On Aug. 3, 2003, the state-run Xinhua News Agency released a strange piece of “news.” It reported that mid-winter in 1996 Jiang Zemin—who was the General Secretary of the CCP, the country’s Chairman, and Chairman of the CMC—hosted a small, special meeting in Qinzheng Hall of the central government complex at Zhongnanhai. The main topic of the meeting was how to improve the temperature and humidity in the south wing of the PLA General Hospital, also known as the “301 Hospital.” Jiang said that the temperature and humidity problem was major, for many of the nation’s founding fathers, who had dedicated their lives to the military, were now staying in the hospital. It was imperative to have “concern” and “take good care” of them.

Why did Jiang regard improving the PLA General Hospital as a “serious problem”? Jiang and Zeng had realized that the hospital would serve them wonderfully well in an attack on other military factions. The majority of the Party and military elders frowned upon the corrupt and incompetent “clown” Jiang. They relied on their credentials and dared to disrespect Jiang. During many high-level, internal meetings of the CCP, these military elders would criticize, reprimand, and even attack Jiang. Jiang could do little about it. All the same, Jiang and Zeng knew one thing: human beings naturally come to have ailments as they age. It was upon this realization that they thought of the hospital. For one, they could use improvements to the hospital to play favor with the military elders, claiming to take care of them. And secondly, the lives of these people would be in Jiang’s hands, and at critical times his control would take effect.

Indeed, Jiang’s special “concern” for the PLA General Hospital finally came to serve an important function.

When Yang Shangkun caught a cold in autumn of 1998 he was taken to the PLA General Hospital, which was by then under Jiang and Zeng’s control. Shortly after Yang Shangkun was hospitalized, at 1:17 a.m. on Sept. 14, 1998, he was pronounced dead. As the saying goes, “Eventually, the truth will win out.” Not long after Yang’s death it was rumored widely by the general public that Yang had in fact been murdered. Yang’s family members in time asked that the Party Central investigate the cause of death.

*   *   *

Sun Zi’s The Art of War says that if the commander-in-chief of an army is incompetent yet eager to show off, greedy for power, greedy for wealth, fearful, unable to keep his word, cruel, or selfish, then his army will meet with failure. Jiang Zemin, the Chairman of China’s Military Commission, upon a close look is found to have all of these traits. As such it should come as little surprise the armed forces under Jiang were rife with corruption and weak. Could such a military guard its homeland and protect its nation from foreign aggression? How unfortunate this is, indeed, for China as a nation.



[1] The Chinese military controlled 15,000 to 20,000 mostly small and medium-sized businesses in this period, ranging from garment factories to toy factories, transport companies, and hotels. There are said to be upwards of 2,000 such PLA (People’s Liberation Army) businesses (many under aliases) in the U.S. at present. The largest among them—such as the China Poly Group, Xinxing Group, and Carrie Enterprises—are international corporations with offices around the world. See details in Seth Faison, “China Moving to Untie Its Military-Industrial Knot.” The New York Times, July 28, 1998.