Hu did not refer to the growing rift between the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which comprises all of China’s armed forces. The highly nationalistic PLA has been seen recently as more aggressive in asserting China’s claims in the South China and East China seas.
However, the PLA’s highest-ranking officer, General Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄), brought it up indirectly.
Guo, who is more a political general than a military one, was quoted by Xinhua as saying the PLA must “adhere to the principle of [the] party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces more voluntarily.”
Three more times in a nine-paragraph dispatch, Xinhua called for adherence to the “absolute leadership” of the CCP over the PLA. Those who read Chinese tea leaves say this harping can only mean the CCP is unhappy with the PLA’s defiance.
Against this divisive backdrop, any Chinese initiatives toward the US that require both political and PLA approval would also be in jeopardy from the very start.
Richard Halloran is a commentator based in Hawaii.