`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 87“The governments of developed nations have a clear divide between military and political power. Military control most usually remains beholden to leaders directly chosen by the people. This is not the case in China, where a number of senior military leaders are members of the government.Generals are asked by non-military CPC leaders to demonstrate the PLA’s loyalty to the Party at every opportunity. Giving a speech to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, President Hu Jintao said ‘To follow the CPC’s command is the overriding political requirement that the Party and Chinese people have placed on the PLA and is the unshakable and fundamental principle for the PLA.’The Party’s increased stress on the loyalty of the PLA rose to a noticeable crescendo in 2007. Why? Perhaps it is because the Party feels losing its grip on the PLA would lessen its ability to control the people.”
It’s certainly true that the PLA is a threat to China. If the CPC is seen to lose the confidence of the people, then the army will simply take over. China will turn into a military dictatorship overnight.
But the PLA is a tool of brute might, not of sophistication. Indeed, China’s armed forces are often rather clumsy and inept.
Now a few of my Chinese readers might recall a little before the Olympics that there was a big ‘terrorist’ incident in Kashgar. This was a most convenient event for Beijing, for they took it as legitimacy to justify their ongoing crackdown on the Uighurs. Naturally, its very convenience raised suspicions in those with some experience of China – or, indeed, thug governments throughout recent history; say for example Gliwice, Poland, in August 1939 – or, better still, the Mukden Incident.
The New York Times is reporting the testimony of tourists in Kashgar who were eyewitnesses to this event. Xinhua and the slavish Chinese press all reported that ‘terrorists’ had attacked an army base, detonated a bomb, killed many brave and true and blah blah blah Chinese heroes.
Not so, say these tourists; they say they saw a group of Chinese paramilitaries and a group of uniformed Chinese men attacking each other, and that there was no explosion. You can read it here, though you'll need to sign up for a login to do so.
Sure, the Western press does get it wrong from time to time – as, for example, in certain aspects of their coverage of the pre-Olympic rioting in Tibet. But when they were shown to be wrong, they apologized. I don’t recall Xinhua ever doing that. So before the few people still bothering to read this blog have a pop at the New York Times, I would ask them to consider how many times and to what level of seriousness the NYT has been caught lying – and then compare that with the record of the CPC.
I have no problem in believing the NYT. It makes perfect sense to me that the CPC would make good use of a lesson from the Japanese Imperial Armies of the Second World War – the CPC has, after all, always been a good student of the Japanese invaders, using their cruelty to harm China even more than the Japanese themselves.
But underneath the minatory thuggishness of China’s leaders, glad to seize a chance to play on race hate and make the Han fear the Uighur even more, lies a simple fact – China’s armed forces are often ill-behaved and amateurish.
`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 88“The Party’s traditional use of the army to maintain its lock on power has resulted in high-ranking generals now permeating every sector of Chinese political life. In previous outbreaks of social unrest in China – most notably the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 – the Party was able to rely on the loyalty of the PLA to comply in murdering the innocent citizens of China. A military takeover at that time was simply unthinkable. But today things are very different. Today’s political leaders have only managed to acquire the passive and acquiescent support of the people, not the active worship that Deng and Mao enjoyed – however dogmatic that worship was. China’s current leaders inspire no affection and no loyalty, either among the soldiers of the PLA or the ordinary people of China.Should China experience profound social turmoil in the coming years – unavoidable in the opinion of the authors – then something very different will happen. There will be bland, anodyne press announcements that the current crop of political leaders is stepping down or has been removed from power. Those leaders without military connections will disappear, silently, quickly, to be replaced by a military junta.The Party knows this and fears this, hence all the demanding rhetoric about PLA loyalty. This, in the end, will count for nothing against the personal charisma of one single man, regardless of the vaunted Chinese theory of rule by consensus. This man, this Chinese Napoleon, is today just one more PLA general. But a time is coming when not just China, but the whole world, will know his name.There are 167 generals in the PLA today. Choose one.”