President Xi Jinping called for unity and stability within the military during an inspection trip, following upheaval in the highest echelons of the People’s Liberation Army.
(Bloomberg) — President Xi Jinping called for unity and stability within the military during an inspection trip, following upheaval in the highest echelons of the People’s Liberation Army.
“We must strictly enforce the education and management of troops, and maintain a high degree of unity, security and stability,” the Chinese leader said during a trip to northeast China on Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
He also stressed the need to improve the level of combat readiness, according to the Sunday report.
While the Chinese leader has regularly stated the need for stability within the nation’s military, including during a trip to Inner Mongolia in June, his comments come after a series of abrupt personnel moves in the PLA.
Earlier this year, Xi abruptly purged two generals leading China’s secretive rocket force, which manages the country’s nuclear arsenal, without explanation. That came shortly after the Chinese leader ousted Qin Gang from the role of foreign minister, after the latter disappeared from public view for a month.
On Friday, Rahm Emanuel, the US Ambassador to Japan, linked Defense Minister Li Shangfu to those unexplained personnel moves, saying in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the Communist Party official hadn’t been seen in public for two weeks.
Li last made a public appearance on Aug. 29, when he delivered a keynote speech at the 3rd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum in Beijing. He also traveled to Russia and Belarus in mid-August, where he called China’s military relationship with Russia a “model for cooperation” during a security conference in Moscow.
Unlike China’s foreign minister who makes public appearances on an at-least weekly basis, the defense minister typically has a less public profile.
China’s military in July launched an inquiry into corruption linked to procuring hardware going back to October 2017, without saying why that date was significant. Li headed the equipment department from September 2017 to 2022, though there is no sign that he is suspected of wrongdoing.
The probe is a sign that Xi’s nearly decade-long drive to clean up the PLA is incomplete.
During Xi’s inspection tour of the army unit in the northeast last week he was accompanied by Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s top military body, Xinhua reported.
–With assistance from Jing Li.
(Updates with details throughout. An earlier version was corrected to show that Qin and Rocket Force generals formerly held their roles.)
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