Dr. Thomas Lairson Professor of Political Science XI Jinping This is a collection of materials relating to the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and President of China, XI Jinping. Nyt

China’s Ruling Party Expels and Investigates Official

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China’s Ruling Party Expels and Investigates Official


HONG KONG — China’s Communist Party has authorized a criminal investigation of Li Chuncheng, a disgraced senior official who was close to Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security chief at the heart of an extensive graft inquiry.

In an announcement on Tuesday, the party’s anticorruption commission said Mr. Li had been expelled from the party and laid out a series of accusations against him, including bribe taking, “feudal” superstition and personal depravity.

Mr. Li, 58, had been the first official detained in an investigation that later encircled and ultimately entrapped Mr. Zhou. A criminal investigation of Mr. Li could be another sign of President Xi Jinping’s determination to punish Mr. Zhou, a former member of the party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee, who would be the highest ranking official in the history of the People’s Republic of China to face prosecution for corruption.

According to the party agency, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Mr. Li “took advantage of his position to seek benefit for others and accepted massive bribes; he took advantage of his position to seek benefit for others, and his wife and daughter accepted massive amounts of wealth and assets; he took advantage of his position to seek to benefit his younger brother’s business activities; he abused his position to engage in feudal superstitious activities and created massive losses to state finances; he was degenerate and depraved.”

Mr. Li, the first known associate of Mr. Zhou to face a party inquiry, was removed from office only weeks after Mr. Zhou, 71, stepped down from his role as head of the country’s internal security forces in late 2012.

The authorities have taken away Mr. Zhou and many of his family members in recent months amid an investigation that has led to the arrests of dozens of Mr. Zhou’s associates. His son Zhou Bin, his sister-in-law Zhou Lingying and his son’s mother-in-law, Zhan Minli, have company assets in their names worth at least $160 million, much of it based on ventures with a state-owned oil company that Mr. Zhou once headed, The New York Times reported this month.

Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham in England, said in an email that the announcement against Mr. Li was unusually strong.

But, Mr. Tsang added, it does not necessarily portend formal charges against Mr. Zhou. He said President Xi might need to gain more support from current and former senior officials in order to move formally against someone so influential and powerful.

Mr. Li moved up the party and government hierarchy in the populous Sichuan Province while Mr. Zhou was the top official there from 1999 to 2002. He rose to become mayor of the provincial capital, Chengdu, and later a deputy party secretary in the province. He is at least the second associate of Mr. Zhou’s to be expelled from the Communist Party this month, after the party’s anticorruption commission said that Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan, had also taken “huge bribes” and engaged in acts of “immorality.”

Mr. Zhou, the patron of both Mr. Li and Mr. Guo, has not been charged with any misdeeds. The party authorities have said nothing about his whereabouts, or about what has happened to the many members of his family who have been also detained.


China’s Leader, Seeking to Build Its Muscle, Pushes Overhaul of the Military


China’s military budget is the second largest in the world, behind that of the United States. Credit Feng Li/Getty Images

BEIJING — Driven by ambitions to make China a great power, President Xi Jinping is staking his political authority on a huge task: overhauling the Chinese military, which is still largely organized as it was when a million peasant soldiers mustered under Mao Zedong.

Mr. Xi wants a military that can project power across the Pacific and face regional rivals like Japan in defense of Chinese interests. To get it, he means to strengthen China’s naval and air forces, which have been subordinate to the People’s Liberation Army’s land forces, and to get the military branches to work in close coordination, the way advanced Western militaries do.

China’s military budget has grown to be the second largest in the world, behind that of the United States, and the country has acquired sophisticated weapons systems. But Mr. Xi has told his commanders that is not enough.

“There cannot be modernization of national defense and the military without modernization of the military’s forms of organization,” Mr. Xi told a committee of party leaders studying military reform at its first meeting in March, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported. “There has to be thoroughgoing reform of leadership and command systems, force structure and policy institutions,” he was quoted as saying.

It will not be easy. Reorganizing the People’s Liberation Army, or P.L.A., will pit Mr. Xi’s ambitions against the entrenched power of the land forces, with about 1.4 million troops, and he will have to manage the overhaul while ensuring that the military remains a reliable guardian of the Communist Party’s hold on political power, experts said.

“Military reform is part of the larger program that Xi Jinping is putting in place to put his imprimatur on the Chinese party-state,” said David M. Finkelstein, vice president and director of China studies at CNA Corporation, a research organization in Alexandria, Va., concentrating on security and military affairs.

“ ‘This time, we’re serious’ — that should be the subtext of this new tranche of reform,” he said. “It will be five years before you see the fruits of it. But 10 years from now, you might see a very different P.L.A.”

As it is now, the army is structured around seven powerful regional commands, originally set up to defend the country against invasion from the Soviet Union and to uphold the party’s domestic control. A recasting of those military regions is at the heart of Mr. Xi’s plans. The Chinese military that emerges is likely to be much more focused on confronting Japan, whose navy is generally considered to have an edge over China’s, and on enforcing Beijing’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

That will inevitably mean transferring or decommissioning significant numbers of soldiers and bureaucrats, who can be expected to argue against Mr. Xi’s plans. Underemployed or unemployed former soldiers are already a persistent source of protests in the country.

“Forces for inertia are making real military reform more difficult,” said Andrew Scobell, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation in Washington who studies the Chinese military. “You’ve got a lot of fiefdoms, and there’s the strong, disproportionate influence and power of the ground forces.”

Money does not appear to be an issue, Western analysts said. “I’m not sure there would be much cost savings” from the overhaul, said Roy D. Kamphausen, a former military attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing who is now a senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington. “There seems to be a comfort level with current spending.”

China spends about 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product on its military; the United States spends about 4.5 percent, Mr. Kamphausen said.

The Chinese military was already trying to accomplish a lot by 2020, at which point it hopes to have completed its mechanization and made major progress in spreading the use of information technology, said Dennis J. Blasko, another former American military attaché in Beijing.

“I see the P.L.A. undertaking a much more complex modernization process, with more components than the U.S. military after Vietnam — but without the recent combat experience, Reagan-era defense budgets, and N.C.O. corps the U.S. military had,” Mr. Blasko said, referring to noncommissioned officers.

Japan and its alliance with the United States have become prime strategic interests for China, whose commanders have been referring to their country’s defeat at Japanese hands in 1895 and using that humiliation as a prod for change.

“Japan’s victory was a victory of its institutions,” Gen. Liu Yazhou of the Chinese Army’s National Defense University said in an interview with the Chinese news media last month. “The defeat of the Qing empire was a defeat of its institutions.”

Mr. Xi appears well positioned to take on the obstacles to the overhaul, analysts said. Unlike his weaker predecessor Hu Jintao, Mr. Xi became chairman of the Central Military Commission at the same time he became party leader. And Phillip C. Saunders, director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University in Washington, said it was clear he had the backing of the six other members of the country’s most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

Mr. Xi’s efforts may be helped by the impending trial of Gu Junshan, a general whose charge sheet reads like a list of the army’s most flagrant corruption problems. Mr. Kamphausen of the National Bureau of Asian Research said the selling of promotions became so widespread that General Gu’s case appeared to be an especially lurid example of widespread graft.

Now, by campaigning against corruption, Mr. Xi has military commanders “so scared, they can’t even park their cars in a restaurant parking lot — they send the driver somewhere else,” Mr. Saunders said.

Besides the senior leadership group Mr. Xi convened in March to oversee reform, five task forces have been set up to examine specific issues, Mr. Saunders said: on training, force reduction, political indoctrination, rooting out corruption and improving the way the military manages its infrastructure.

But the biggest challenge may be loosening the grip of the ground forces.

“That’s the key to everything, because at this point, if you analyze the structure of the P.L.A., the army dominates,” said Nan Li, an expert on the Chinese military who teaches at the United States Naval War College in Newport, R.I. “All these services other than the ground force, their officers are marginal in the regional command structure. They are not integrated. They are on the sidelines.”

Mr. Li said solving that problem would require creating separate headquarters and shifting personnel and resources to the navy, air force and missile forces, which are better able to project power abroad than the land forces are.

One basic tenet will remain: There are no signs that China’s military commanders will challenge the party’s control over the army, even if they privately blanch at some of Mr. Xi’s demands, analysts said.

“Defense of the party is always Mission No. 1,” said Mr. Finkelstein of CNA. “The officers of the P.L.A. are party members who happen to wear uniforms.”

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