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China moves to strengthen military, praises Xi as a global leader – China’s latest political and current affairs news

A
summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for September 1, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.
2 weeks ago
Lucas Niewenhuis

This moment in Chinese leadership, leading up to the 19th Party Congress on October 18th:

China’s military has reshuffled leadership amid a push for greater global influence:

  • Reuters reports that Han Weiguo 韩卫国 will lead the People’s Liberation Army and Ding Laihang 丁来杭 will lead the air force. Both hold a fairly low profile, though Han notably organized the military parade in Inner Mongolia in late July, which President Xi oversaw.
  • Li Zuocheng 李作成, a man hailed by state media as a “war hero” for his role in China’s open border conflict with Vietnam in 1979, was recently promoted to be the new chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army, Reuters notes.

President Xi is being promoted around the clock as China’s new great helmsman:

  • Reuters says that since the military parade (noted above), more and more high-profile figures and Party media outlets — though not the People’s Daily, yet — have praised President Xi as lingxiu (领袖 lǐngxiù; “leader”), a word with “grander, almost spiritual, connotations” compared with the typical word for “leader,” lingdao (领导 lǐngdǎo). It is a way to signal that the “party is gearing up to put Xi on the same level as Mao,” a diplomatic source said.
  • The Guardian reports on a “four-and-a-half-hour television extravaganza” in state media that idolizes Xi as a globally beloved “anti-Trump” — that is, a “committed internationalist who champions global trade, developing nations and the fight against climate change.”
  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi 王毅 also held a press conference in which he spoke of Xi as a “pioneer” who “innovates upon and transcends the past 300 years of traditional Western international relations theory,” according to Reuters.

But corruption in the military may still be endemic, and there are hints of other problems:

  • Commentary blog Politics from the Provinces notes a long essay on military reforms being published widely in Party and military media. The almost paranoid tone of the essay indicates that “military corruption hasn’t gone away” and that the “Party leadership remains concerned about the institutional shortcomings of the armed forces,” the post argues.

By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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