In an apparent purge, China’s ruler Xi Jinping surprisingly fired two top generals at the head of the People’s Liberation Army’s missile force.
The missile force has become an important part of the Chinese armed forces. She controls the vast arsenal of land-based tactical and strategic missiles. The purge is another one Xi hopes to use to cement his power.
He learned from the mistakes of the war his friend Vladimir Putin made in Ukraine. Xi wants to avoid groups forming within the army, which reports to him alone, that could act against him.
Xi fires missile officers over corruption
A possible war against Taiwan would result in high casualties in Xi’s Red Army. This could quickly lead to dissatisfaction among the population and make the military leadership susceptible to criticism of the president.
The people who now command the rocket troop are distinguished by their loyalty to the ruler. Officially, it is said that the former officers were dismissed from office because of corruption.
This is reminiscent of Xi’s assumption of office in 2013. At that time he had removed all opponents within the party because of allegations of corruption. It seems he’s using this tool once more to expand his power.
There is currently no trace of the two generals who were sacked. This is reminiscent of former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who has disappeared since June and was officially fired last week.
Again, the reasons are opaque. Speculations range from an affair with a television journalist to an illness. The State Department left reporters’ questions unanswered.
Despite the purge, there is a lack of control over the People’s Liberation Army
The Communist Party exercises strong control over the People’s Liberation Army, but wants to expand it further. Corruption scandals are as common in the Chinese military as in the rest of the party, but can have devastating consequences for national security.
Poorly constructed bridges or schools are deadly. The discovery that missiles aren’t working because the maintenance funds have been stolen could mean defeats in wars – and thus jeopardize the survival of the party.
Here, too, Xi has learned from Putin’s failure. Many of the weapons that the Kremlin had on paper and should be ready for use either didn’t exist, or were in such poor condition that they were better left unused.
The current purge will not be the last
The current purge doesn’t necessarily mean China is preparing to invade Taiwan, as some observers have suggested. National security is the key phrase under which Xi has placed his third term.
He wants to gain complete control over the lives of everyone in China. To do this, Xi wants to use the right people, i.e. those who are subordinate to him, in all positions. So the purge at the top of the missile force will not be the last.
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