What led me to the following speculation – and translation – is a post on a Sincere Soldier‘s (至诚大兵) People’s Daily blog, on the promotion of Wei Fenghe (魏凤和), by Xi Jinping, the CCP’s Central Military Commission. It was published on November 24 (Saturday).
I’m not quite sure what makes Wei Fenghe‘s promotion so unusual (if there is anything that does), but People’s Daily appeared to see a need to explain Wei’s promotion from middle general (中将军) to senior general (上将军), not least in the light of other former middle generals who had had to wait longer for their promotion than Wei. To provide such explanation seems to be the job of Sincere Soldier, the “blogger” on the People’s Daily platform.
Some comment from other media (before we are getting back to Sincere Soldier):
Promoting senior military officers is one of the two most effective ways for a civilian party leader to consolidate his control over the world’s biggest fighting force. The other is increasing military spending to improve soldiers’ welfare,
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) explained, also last Saturday.
“The coming of Xi’s era is far earlier than expected by most of the outside world,” Lin said. “The authorisation of Wei’s promotion signifies the kicking off of his time in charge of the military, although the process is going as expected”, the SCMP quoted Taiwan’s former deputy defense minister Lin Chong-pin, within the same article on Saturday.
Another issue that Sincere Soldier addresses can be found in New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV’s) comment on Lei Fenghe’s promotion:
According to the constitution, the chairman of the Central Military Commission is the head of the National Central Military Commission and also the head of the national military. Xi Jinping has been recently promoted as the Chairman of the CCP’s Central Military Commission. However, Hu Jintao is still Chairman of the national Central Military Commission. Commentator Xia Xiaoqiang: “Hu Jintao hopes that Xi Jinping improves authority in the military by promoting an army general. This will help maintain the stability of the CCP regime in a whole. [...] The CCP doesn’t care about whether or not it abides by the Constitution. In front of the law, the Party has the final say.”
“Sincere Soldier”, the People’s Daily blogger, seems to see an issue there, although – obviously – in a different light. Read for yourselves.
Links within the following blockquotes added during translation – JR.
Main Link: Sincere Soldier’s blogpost
According to China Military Online, the Central Military Commission (CMC) held a solemn ceremony for the promotion to a senior general’s rank at the 8-1 building in Beijing today. CMC chairman Xi Jinping promoted CMC member and Second Artillery Corps member Wei Fenghe to the rank of a senior general.
This is the first time that Xi Jinping signed a promotion to a senior general’s rank after becoming CMC chairman, which led to particular interest among observers. What does this first signature reveal about the construction of our military? Please read my straightforward analysis as a sincere serviceman.
(1) It shows that the People’s Liberation Army resolutely obeys Chairman Xi’s command. That Xi Jinping signs the first promotion to the rank of a senior general is intended to demonstrate, to insiders and outsiders, the People’s Liberation Army resolve to obey CMC chairman Xi’s commands. To listen to the party’s commands is the core and the spirit of the People’s Liberation Army’s good tradition. After Xi Jinping took the CMC chairmanship, the People’s Liberation Army, above all, needed to uphold the party’s absolute leadership of the armed forces, the forces’ political political qualification, its absolute loyalty and reliability, to resist [by this ceremony] the West’s hopes for a “nationalization of the military forces“.
Hu Jintao, not so Mursi – for copyright reasions, I’m not including a photo here, but it can be found there.
(2) It shows once more the nobility and sterling integrity of Hu Jintao’s withdrawal. Hu Jintao considered the overall development and on his own initiative relinquished his service as CMC chairman. The way Hu Jintao, on the extended meeting of the CMC, introduced Xi Jinping as a man who was qualified to chair the CMC reflected the high degree to which the handover was made on a foundation of trust. However, Hu Jintao remains in charge of the People’s Republic of China’s Central Military Commission*), and to step down from this service will require confirmation from next year’s National People’s Congress (NPC). The way in which the new CMC chairman Xi Jinping signed and announced the promotion by writ once again reflected Hu Jintao’s nobility and sterling integrity and his great trust in Xi Jinping, the profoundness of his mind, which avoided the possibility of a “crash” from the promotion.
(3) The solemnity of the occasion showed a great emphasis on the Second Artillery Corps’ importance. [...]
(4) It shows that Chairman Xi Jinping grasps the construction of the armed forces in accordance with the army regulations. [...]
Wei Fenghe’s promotion to senior general’s rank will be conducive to our military troops’ organizational command and to related activities. An army officer’s promotion to senior general’s rank is a very solemn and serious event. If we go by Ma Xiaotian and Liu Yuan as examples, they both held ranks as middle generals for nine years. [ Unsafe translation: Based on the records of service, there are above-board military-region middle generals with longer terms as middle generals than Wei Fenghe to be chosen. However, Chairman Xi Jinping signed the order and announced Wei Fenghe's promotion in the same place also lets Wei exercise complementary tasks as CMC member and the command of the Second Artillery Corps.] Wei Fenghe’s promotion will be conducive to the Second Artillery Corps’ organizational command and to related activities. Wei Fenghe’s duties and positions, besides commanding the Second Artillery Corps, will – depending on the situation – require the command of the Corps, corresponding public activities and foreign activities, and Wei Fenghe’s promotion is conducive to the troops’ organizational command and to the related activities.
The “People’s Liberation Army” would be under the CCP’s command either way, but the Communist Party’s immediate command (shortcutting state supervision and command) doesn’t go without saying. The above People’s Daily blogpost, by suggesting that PLA nationalization would only fulfill “Western” hopes, blanketly counts Chinese proponents of such nationalization into a “Western” camp.
*) Uaually, both the party’s and the state CMC’s are identical in membership.