Tags: Shakeup | Top | Chinese | Military | Command

Shakeup of Top Chinese Military Command

Monday, 26 December 2005 12:00 AM

The Chinese army and Communist Party recently announced a shakeup of the top military command. Top on the list of the shuffle of generals inside Beijing is the pending retirement of Gen. Xiong Guangkai and the public demotion of Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu.

The biggest non-event in Beijing is the so-called "punishment" of a Chinese general for shooting his mouth off in public. Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu received an "administrative demerit" recently from the National Defense University.

In July, Zhu told a group of visiting Hong Kong-based reporters that China would have no choice but to resort to nuclear weapons in the event of U.S. intervention in a conflict involving Taiwan.

Zhu's administrative demerit is the second-lightest punishment that the PLA Central Military Command can offer. The lightest is an administrative warning, while the heaviest is out-right expulsion.

The second general on the news list is Gen. Xiong Guangkai.

Xiong is currently the People's Liberation Army (PLA) deputy commander and head of PLA's Military Intelligence Department (MID). Beijing announced that Xiong would be retired but made no mention of when or who would replace him.

Xiong is also well known inside Washington circles for threatening to vaporize a major U.S. city. He warned Chas Freeman, a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense, in 1995 that China could use nuclear weapons in any conflict over Taiwan and that Americans cared more about Los Angeles than Taipei.

One of Xiong's more recent public statements was on his friendly feelings for neighboring North Korea. According to Xiong, the relationship between communist China and North Korea is like "lips and teeth."

Yet Xiong is also known in D.C. as a major political fundraiser for the DNC. He was responsible for the successful effort to funnel illegal campaign contributions to the Clinton-Gore re-election effort in 1996. Xiong has even been inside the White House, visiting President Clinton in 2000.

In 1996, Xiong sent his second-in-command, General Ji, to meet with Johnny Chung in the basement of a Hong Kong restaurant. At the same time, Johnny's daughter and a teen-age friend were inside communist China on a shopping trip.

"We like your president," Ji told Chung before passing a check for $300,000 across the table. "We want him re-elected."

Johnny Chung was certainly in no position to disagree with Ji – especially if he wanted to see his daughter again.

The $300,000 in red army money made it to Clinton and Gore through the Democratic National Committee. The Federal Election Commission fined the DNC $243,000 for "knowingly and willingly" accepting the Chinese army money.

However, Xiong is also known outside the White House. The State Department recently accused China of shipping nuclear warhead and missile technology to North Korea. Nuclear weapon and missile technology export is directly under the command of the Chinese army general staff, including Xiong.

"For a number of years General Xiong has been on a trajectory toward 'PLA Senior Statesmen' status and he has a bright future," said Rick Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Fisher is well versed in the ways of Xiong.

"His position as chairman of the China Institute for Strategic Studies will give him license to play more prominently on the world stages, and he may even become a highly sought-after consultant/adviser for a wide range of foreign concerns seeking access advantages in Beijing," noted Fisher.

"But Xiong's services will also come with a steep price; you have to be a proven 'Friend of China' before you can get into his door. The critical distinction is that Xiong can never be viewed as a 'private' person. He was and always will be an intelligence and propaganda professional, one who will continue to help orchestrate China's conduct of strategic political-military warfare," stated Fisher.

"Xiong's retirement, the announcement of General Zhu Chenghu's 'administrative demerit' and the release of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs' latest white paper pleading that China only wants peace should not be misread as proof that somebody in Beijing thinks China might have some 'PR' problems," asserted Fisher.

"I don't think that Hu Jintao walks into Central Military Commission meetings with briefing binders from image consultants. There is absolutely no sign that China's leaders are ready to change anything that is causing rising foreign fears, like reducing its vast military buildup, considering even reasonable levels of military transparency, or ending its preparations to murder Taiwan," noted Fisher.

"The problem for China's leaders is that they cannot sufficiently conceal their belligerence. This is why they feign shock in response to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso's most recent description of China as a 'threat'," concluded Fisher.


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The Chinese army and Communist Party recently announced a shakeup of the top military command.Top on the list of the shuffle of generals inside Beijing is the pending retirement of Gen. Xiong Guangkai and the public demotion of Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu. The biggest...
Monday, 26 December 2005 12:00 AM
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