Inside the Ring: Power politics behind PLA general’s ouster

The ouster of retired People’s Liberation Army Gen. Xu Caihou from the Communist Party of China this week represents a major political blow to China’s all-powerful military.

For a decade, Gen. Xu was the most powerful man in uniform in China as the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in charge of political affairs. From that post between 2002 and 2012 he wielded enormous power, ultimately controlling all things military in China, from the PLA’s multibillion-dollar budgets to appointments and promotions of all senior leaders.

According to U.S. government China analysts, there is high confidence that the outgoing Mr. Hu warned his successor Mr. Xi that Gen. Xu, a Jiang loyalist and member of the ruling Politburo, was someone not to be trusted. And that is what officials say led Mr. Xi to the use the party investigatory system to bring criminal charges against the Chinese general, culminating his prosecution and disgrace within the party.

The problems do not appear to be over for Mr. Xi in his drive to further consolidate power in the party. Gen. Xu remains a powerful figure in the military because he was able to use his decade of political control over the PLA to position tens of acolytes in top ranks. In fact, both current CMC vice chairmen, Gen. Fan Changlong and Gen. Xu Qiliang, are proteges of the ousted general.

China’s new attack sub mock up

China’s military is investing heavily in advanced submarines, including both ballistic and cruise missile firing vessels and attack subs. Recently, Beijing showed off what appears to be a mock-up of its next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, according to veteran military analyst Rick Fisher.

“A large outdoor model of a next generation nuclear attack submarine [SSN] has appeared at the People’s Liberation Army Navy [PLAN] submarine academy in Qingdao, China,” Mr. Fisher stated in a report published by the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a think tank.

“The role of this model may simply be to inspire the academy’s students, but it may signify a larger personnel investment by the PLAN to prepare for its next generation submarines, as it may also offer some indications about a new class of SSN,” he said, referring to the military acronym for attack submarines

Photos of the model were first published in April during a Chinese naval conference, and Mr. Fisher said the Chinese have long used such photos of mock-up weapons as political messages for both domestic and foreign audiences.

The mock-up could be the first peek at China’s Type-095 attack submarine — the second nuclear-powered attack submarine being built by the Chinese after its current Type-093.

In addition to the attack subs, the Chinese also are building two new ballistic missile submarines, the Type-094 and Type-096.

The Pentagon in its latest annual report on China’s military said currently two Type-093s are deployed and four improved Type-093s will be fielded in the next five years.

However, Mr. Fisher said Asia military sources have indicated that in addition to the six Type-093s, two new Type-095s could be deployed by 2020.

Full article: Inside the Ring: Power politics behind PLA general’s ouster (Washington Times)

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