BEIJING: China's ruling Communist Party has removed military officials from its powerful provincial committees in a bid to reduce military’s influence on the party, a move that may consolidate the powers of President Xi Jinping. Fourteen provinces have removed the position of military members in the new standing committees, state-run Global Times reported today.
Each province has standing committees which virtually controls power structures. At the central level Xi heads a seven member Standing Committee which is most powerful body of the party. The move may consolidate Xi’s power as he also heads the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), an over all high command of the Chinese military.
The move seen as an attempt by Xi to cut military’s involvement in party’s governance. He has already carried out a massive anti-corruption drive in the military under which over 40 retired and serving Generals were indicted. Chinese experts said removing military officers from the standing committee of provincial Party committees would help reduce the military's influence over local governments and create a better military.
"Not choosing any military officer as provincial standing committee member would help create well-equipped military forces and comply with the development requirements," Xu Yaotong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times. "The military used to have enormous clout over local governments when military officers dealt with their private affairs, such us helping family members," Xu said, adding that corruption surfaces when they enjoy privileges because of social links with the government, also called guanxi.
The previous practice saw a member, who serves as military commander or political commissar from a provincial military command, sitting in the standing committee, another daily Legal Mirror reported. Last week Wang Bianjiang, the political commissar in Liaoning Military Command, was removed as a member of the standing committee at the first plenary meeting of the 12th Liaoning Provincial Committee the CPC. "Since the military, which involves national mobilisation, only engages with the local government when carrying out their duties in the region, it is unnecessary for military officers to assume posts in administrative organs," said Xu.
A total of 28 provincial military commands are under the National Defence Mobilisation Commission, the Legal Mirror reported. "But removing military members from provincial standing committees does not mean that the CPC will lose control over the military," Xu said, given that the Xi heads the China's Central Military Commission (CMC) which is the overall high command of the PLA.
China has the 2.3 million-strong army. By 2020, the Chinese army will complete the mechanisation of all forces and achieve substantial progress in incorporating information and computer technology, according to a five-year military development plan published in May. It said the CMC will be in charge of overall administration. China's armed forces will realise "a significant improvement in key combat capabilities."
China has also rolled out a revised regulation to streamline audit practices in the military and tighten disciplinary supervision, according to a recent regulation signed by Xi. The supervision system can largely guarantee that the over USD 140 billion defence budget will be properly spent and prevent abuse, waste and corruption, Song Zhongping, a military commentator, told the daily.