Xi Asserts His Authority Through the MilitaryAmid the infighting among political factions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi took the opportunity to show the Party that he commanded the military by appointing new generals. As the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the move would secure Xi’s authority and serve as a warning to those who oppose him.
Xinhua reported that on Dec. 18, Xi presented the officers with certificates of order at a ceremony held by the CMC at the Defense Ministry's Bayi building, located near Bayi lake in Beijing. Four senior officers were promoted to the rank of general, the highest rank for officers in active service in China. Around 30 people attended the ceremony which was held in a small conference room.
The four officers who were promoted were: Guo Puxiao, the political commissar of the Logistics Support Department of the CMC; Gen. Zhang Xudong, the commander of the Western Theater Command; Li Wei, the political commissar of the PLA Strategic Support Force; and Wang Chunning, the commander of the People's Armed Police.
Guo Puxiao, a native of Yaoxian county, Shaanxi Province, was transferred and assigned as political commissar of the Logistics Support Department of the CMC in December 2019. He has been a political cadre of the Air Force for many years. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in July 2018.
Zhang Xudong has just been transferred and assigned to the commander of the Western Theater Command, one of China’s five military area commands. Xudong was also the deputy commander of the Joint Command Headquarters of the 70th anniversary National Day Parade in October 2019. He was promoted to lieutenant general in July 2018.
Li Wei has just been transferred to the political commissar of the Strategic Support Force, one of the six major branches of the military. He has been a political cadre for many years. He was promoted to lieutenant general in July 2016.
International PressureAt the press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China on Dec. 18, a reporter from Reuters asked: "The United States will add around 80 Chinese companies, including chipmaker SMIC to a trade blacklist. ... Do you have any comment on this report?"
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that if the report was true, then the U.S. move would be “detrimental to the interests of both Chinese and American companies, the normal technological exchanges and trade flows between the two countries and even on a global scale, and the stability of global industrial chains, supply chains, and value chains.”
“Entity List restrictions are a necessary measure to ensure that China, through its national champion SMIC, is not able to leverage U.S. technologies to enable indigenous advanced technology levels to support its destabilizing military activities,” Ross added.
The CCP’s army refused to participate in a virtual meeting with the U.S. military that was scheduled for Dec. 14 to 16. The meeting was held regularly since 1998 to discuss maritime and aviation safety and reduce confrontation between the two militaries. Beijing’s refusal to attend the meeting is another misstep for Xi, which is tantamount to intensifying the military confrontation between the United States and China.
The U.S. Navy recently announced that U.S. warships trained with French and Japanese navies in the Philippine sea. On Dec. 9, Xi had a telephone conversation with President Emmanuel Macron of France, but the Party media's report was very low-key. Perhaps Beijing is starting to feel isolated.