The veil is lifting on the world’s largest military

china military flag


So secretive is China’s army that it began admitting foreign journalists to its monthly–and highly uninformative–briefings only last year.

But in the past few months extraordinary revelations have appeared in the Chinese media about corruption in the highest ranks of the People’s Liberation Army: a deputy chief of logistics built a mansion for himself modelled on the Forbidden City (among his treasures was a statue of Mao Zedong, in gold); the country’s most senior uniformed officer had a basement stacked high with cash; and in January it emerged that no fewer than 15 generals, including a former deputy chief of the nuclear arsenal, were being investigated for graft.

Never before in China’s history have so many high-ranking officers faced such charges at once.

The lifting of the veil that normally shrouds the world’s largest military force is evidence of the clout of Xi Jinping, the chief of the Communist Party, state president and, most importantly, commander-in-chief of what Mr Xi insists on reminding officers is the party’s army.

No leader since Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s has held such sway over the armed forces. His purge of its highest echelons may be partly aimed at crushing potential rivals.

China’s army does not accept the kind of surveillance that the Americans and Russians routinely carried out near each other’s territory during the cold war. The scarcity of “mil-mil” contacts makes it harder for America and China to communicate in times of crisis.

Secondly, the PLA fosters a paranoid fear within its ranks that America is bent on China’s destruction. A new directive published this month calls for tighter ideological background checks on soldiers to prevent “sabotage by hostile forces”. Mr Xi, like his predecessors, sees this as important for discipline.

Full article: The veil is lifting on the world’s largest military (Business Insider)

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