It’s easy to forget that the People’s Liberation Army, the largest military force in the world, is not actually the army of China, but the military wing of the CPC. Liz Carter at Tea Leaf Nation highlights the growing clamour, in this time of political transition, for the PLA to be nationalised.
He Bing, Vice President of the Law School of China University of Political Science and Law (translation by Tea Leaf Nation):
Soldiers have fully-developed thinking skills before they enlist. For example, we teach them that the People’s army must be loyal to the Party, because the Party represents the interests of the People. The soldiers say, ‘Isn’t it just easier to be loyal to the People directly? What’s the use of being so roundabout?’ Ai, so difficult!”
Loyalty to the Party made sense when the CPC was a revolutionary organisation seeking to overthrow both Japanese Imperialism and Kuomintang pseudo-fascism. The modern CPC however, claims to speak for all of China (including several geographical entities that would rather it didn’t) but maintains a massive armed force to ensure that, if necessary, the will of the Party is placed above the will of the people.
Numerous editorials in state media have decried calls for the de-politicization of the PLA as “foreign plots” designed to destabilize China’s political system. Mao Zedong famously once said that it was vital that “the Party commands the gun”.
Carter highlights a number of comments supportive of He’s original post (which was retweeted over 12,000 times), the most telling of which is “These days, we love our country, but not our Party.”
If the day does come when the Chinese people demand more of a say in the running of their country, a politicized armed force, loyal only to the Party, will be the biggest bulwark to change. The Party may pay lip-service to reformation and liberalisation but while it controls the gun it will, in the end, control the people.
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