Xi's military reforms 'aimed at boosting grip of party'

President Xi (second from left) visiting the PLA Daily's headquarters last Friday to commemorate the paper's 60th anniversary. Mr Xi called on the paper to play a leading role in strengthening the military during his visit.
President Xi (second from left) visiting the PLA Daily's headquarters last Friday to commemorate the paper's 60th anniversary. Mr Xi called on the paper to play a leading role in strengthening the military during his visit.PHOTO: XINHUA

HONG KONG • The official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has stressed that Chinese President Xi Jinping's reforms of the military were aimed at consolidating the Communist Party's control over the armed forces, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

In a commentary published yesterday, the PLA Daily also accused unnamed hostile forces of attempting to pull the military away from the party's banner, SCMP said.

Mr Xi last month unveiled a broad-brush outline of the reforms aimed at further modernising the command structure of the world's largest armed forces to better enable it to win a modern war.

His reforms include establishing a joint operational command structure by 2020, rejigging existing military regions, cutting troop numbers by 300,000 as well as strengthening the Central Military Commission (CMC) command structure over the PLA.

The PLA Daily commentary, signed by Mr Cui Lianjie, a deputy director at the PLA Nanjing Institute of Politics, said the reforms would strengthen the power of the CMC, which is headed by Mr Xi, and make sure supreme leadership and command belonged to him.

"The party's absolute leadership of the army is not an abstract principle; it has a set of institutional arrangements to make sure this is the case," the commentary said.

Consolidating regional commands and reorganising army headquarters were in line with that goal, the article added.

The commentary came two days after Mr Xi called on the PLA Daily to play a leading role in strengthening the military during a visit to the paper's headquarters in Beijing.

He said then that the paper must "unswervingly" embrace the leadership of the Communist Party of China and also serve the PLA, Xinhua news agency reported.

The PLA Daily had carried a rare article last month expressing concerns that Beijing could destabilise the armed services and society if it went ahead with plans to restructure and slash the size of the country's military without addressing the issues of salaries and pensions, SCMP said. The article was written by two senior researchers at the PLA National Defence University's department of strategic education and research.

Their public show of concern suggested that Mr Xi's plans have met some resistance from within the military, said SCMP.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Xi's military reforms 'aimed at boosting grip of party''. Print Edition | Subscribe