China’s top military newspaper yesterday warned officers to remain the ruling Communist Party’s “most loyal” defenders in the face of what it called Western plotting, describing recent cases of ill-discipline and corruption as a “profound warning.”
The commentary in the Liberation Army Daily did not specify what problems might have prompted the unusually blunt warning over laxity, waste and abuses in the military, but the Chinese Communist Party is wrestling with scandals ahead of a power succession later this year.
Its leaders appear determined to ensure that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) remains the ultimate shield of their authority.
Anxieties about party control appear to have grown after the ousting of Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai (薄熙來), as well as corruption allegations around PLA Lieutenant General Gu Junshan (谷俊山).
“Hostile international forces have not slackened in their strategic plotting to Westernize and divide us,” the commentary said, adding that some officers have “wavered” in their loyalty to the party and its credo.
“Faced with complex and capricious ideological currents and phenomenon, leading officials must be even clearer about serving as the most resolute supporters of the Party’s cause and its most loyal implementers,” the commentary said.
“Ensure that the gun always heads the Party’s commands,” it said.
The party has always treated its grip on the PLA as a pillar of its one-party power. Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) also serves as chairman of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the PLA, and his term in that job could extend beyond early next year, when he is due to step down as president.
The Chinese government is usually mute about rifts and scandals. That secretiveness applies especially to the military.
Last month, the Liberation Army Daily told troops to ignore online gossip after outlandish rumors of a foiled coup spread on the Internet. That followed the abrupt ousting of Bo, once a contender for a spot in the new central leadership to be unveiled at a party congress later this year.
A source with ties to the PLA told Reuters earlier this year that Gu was under investigation for alleged corruption. Gu formerly oversaw the building of barracks and other military projects as director of the Bureau of Capital Construction and Barracks under the Logistics Department.
Since then, there have been no public announcements about the case. Sources close to the PLA have said the probe into Gu has encountered resistance or foot-dragging from within the military.