Chinese President Xi Jinping's consolidation of power in military affairs has picked up over the past week.
On Saturday state media reported that Xi is to lead a group in charge of deepening military reform. Xi already heads up similar bodies on economic reform and runs the newly established national security commission. The military reform group held its first meeting yesterday.
Xi is also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), a position he inherited from his predecessor, Hu Jintao. The former president was known for his weakness in the role, and the real power in military affairs under Hu was said to lie with Xu Caihao, then vice-chairman of the CMC.
In a not-too-curious coincidence, Xu was detained in a corruption investigation yesterday, the same day the military reform group held its first meeting under President Xi. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports retired PLA general Xu was taken from a military hospital in Beijing, where he was being treated for bladder cancer, and is being held in a secret detention centre.
SCMP quotes sources saying that military reformists are pleased with the arrest: knowledge of Xu and his subordinate Gu Junshan's rampant corruption was widespread in the PLA, and authorities had considered letting Xu off the hook because of his illness. Gu has been under military detention since 2012.
On Tuesday, China Military Net announced the start of new campaign for top military personnel to study 'the spirit and theory of a series of important speeches' by Xi. In thrilling prose, the dispatch announced that President Xi had 'grasped the times and introduced new requirements, seized the new expectations of the people, concentrated on reform and stability and offered thoughtful new ideas' and that his speeches were 'a powerful ideological weapon.' On the same day, the website also published news of a circular on discussions to improve the combat effectiveness of the military.
Finally, for those who enjoy the CPC's particular brand of turgid phraseology, it was announced yesterday that work has begun on a seventh volume of the Official History of the People's Liberation Army, to cover the period from 1978 through to the early 1990s. A date of publication is yet to be announced, but for background reading one can pick up a set of the first six volumes of the History, covering the period 1921-1977, on Chinese Amazon. At less than $50 for 2694 pages, it's practically a steal.