Beijing unveils major reshuffle of top armed forces personnel
China is on its way to revamp its powerful Central Military Commission, as the country gets ready to bring in a new generation of political leadership at the helm.
The world’s second largest economy and arguably the second biggest military power is undergoing through its second peaceful transition of power.
President Hu Jintao along with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will make way for new leaders during the Communist Party’s annual conference that begins on November 8. Hu is expected to hand over the mantles of the Chinese Presidency and the Party Chief to his anointed successor, the current Vice President Xi Jinping
However, it is not clear whether Hu Jintao will continue to Chair the all powerful Central Military Commission for another couple of years. The Central Military Commission is made up of two politicians and ten senior generals.
The two politicians, namely Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, will most likely continue as the Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively, but Sino observers believe as many as seven generals in the top table might be replaced.
The outspoken General Ma Xiaotian, 63, has been appointed as the new Air Force Chief which gets him a seat on the table along with General Zhang Yang, 61, who has been chosen to head the armed forces’ political department.
The outgoing air force chief, General Xu Qiliang, 50, is expected to be promoted to be one of the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – the highest position for an uniformed officer.
During the Hu Presidency, the Chinese armed forces went through a major transformation. In a speech in 2004, the outgoing President laid out the doctrine of modernisation with a vision that China should be able to project power far away from home if necessary.
Like all Chinese leaders, Hu wants to ensure his legacy continues and would seek to appoint Generals in the top body who are loyal to him. Many analysts say this is the way power would be balanced between the outgoing leadership and the incoming leadership.
The previous Jiang - Hu transition took two years before the former President Jiang Zemin stepped down as Chair of the Military Commission. This time it might be no different.