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.
Soft power and global leadership
In global popularity contest, U.S. and China – not Russia – vie for first / Pew Research
Opinion: How China aims to limit the West’s global influence / NYT (paywall)
Beijing told to cut PM2.5 by one-fourth this winter / Caixin
“In a document jointly released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and nine other ministry-level bodies, if a city does not achieve 60% of the emission reduction target, the city’s vice mayor will be held responsible; if the city achieves less than 30% of its target, the mayor will be held responsible; and if the PM2.5 level ends up increasing instead of falling over the winter, the party secretary of the city will be held responsible.”
China admits it will struggle to meet smog reduction targets / AFP
‘Most prejudiced’: Chinese react to U.S. pick of Harry Harris for Australia / Brisbane Times
Six Chinese nationals caught trying to reach Australia by boat / AFP
China consulate involved in Newcastle Uni Taiwan row / The Australian
Efforts to mend China-Vatican rift seem stalled over bishops / Washington Post
Law criminalizing insults to national anthem passed by China’s legislature, with detention for offenders / SCMP
“Law governing use of the anthem will also be applied to Hong Kong.”
‘We must send our best to the front line’: Xi Jinping goes all out to rid China of poverty in three years / SCMP