As rumors abound on social media that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is going to resign soon, the speech of a high-ranking military official appeared to have signaled a rebuttal to such a prospect.
On May 13, vice chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission Zhang Youxia delivered a speech at the All-Army Youth Work Symposium in Beijing.
During the talk, he referred to Xi Jinping as Party Leader Xi. He said that he would always act and fight under the party’s absolute leadership.
His remarks came out amid heated speculations that Xi will soon declare his resignation. According to IndiaTV, the current Chinese leader, as rumors put it, may leave his post either for his health or his failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic properly.
But as Zhang’s statements reassert Xi’s leadership. It indicates that the military is still on his side. According to an op-ed in 2016 by Hu Ping, editor-in-chief of pro-democracy news outlet Beijing Spring, it could be a sign Xi’s resignation might be far away from being a near reality.
On Radio Free Asia, Hu said that many researchers had studied the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) internal working mechanisms. They realize that military strength is the most necessary power for the party’s leaders.
Mao Zedong said, quote Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun end quote. The editor-in-chief said guns are the ruling power of the party. Violence and struggle are why the leader may overcome his colleagues and dominate the entire party.
Hu took the Eleventh Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee held in Beijing in August 1966 as an example. Most of the Central Committee members disapproved at the meeting, but they nonetheless obediently raised their approval hands.
At the time, then-leader Mao Zedong dispatched troops. In addition to the guard corps and the Beijing garrison of Mao’s family, he mobilized hundreds of thousands of direct field troops stationed in the capital.
Chinese editor Hu Ping takes Deng Xiaoping’s southern tour in 1992 to demonstrate how vital it is to the CCP’s senior leaders to dominate the political in figthting with violence.
Between January 18 and February 21, 1992, Deng toured Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and other places in southern China. He delivered essential speeches, reiterating the reform and opening up line.
Deng sent a stern warning during the tour that whoever opposed reform would have to step down.
After the tour, the then CCP general secretary Jiang Zemin accepted his reform agenda and passed relevant decisions at subsequent Politburo meetings. It should be noted that at the time, Jiang was also the president of the state and the chairman of the Military Commission.
The democracy activist argued that even as Jiang superficially held the top position, the army was not under his command but Deng’s. This was because, at the time, the military was comprised mainly of Deng’s people.
In the Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China book, American sociologist Ezra Vogel observed that Deng’s meeting in Zhuhai during his southern tour was apparently about military planning. During the meeting, he repeated that whoever does not reform will step down. Deng further remarked that the Chinese leaders seemed to be doing things, but they had not done anything worthwhile.
That meeting was chaired by Qiao Shi, who was in charge of national security and was considered a potential competitor to Jiang Zemin.
The meeting was also joined by State President and Vice Chairman of the Military Commission Yang Shangkun and another vice-chairman of the Military Commission, General Liu Huaqing. Also presented was Yang Baibing, director of the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army.
The composition of the attendees, with military leaders, indicated that they were ready to promote new leaders.
After Jiang obtained the meeting recording, he made an exception to call Deng during the Spring Festival to say New Year’s greetings, expressing his support for Deng’s reform line.