Beijing: A top Chinese military official has said China will show no mercy towards Taiwan’s independence. This comes despite turmoil in the top ranks of the country’s armed forces, Voice of America (VOA) reported.
General Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), said: “No matter who wants to separate Taiwan from China in any form, the Chinese military will never agree and will show no mercy.”
His remarks came at the 10th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on Monday. More than 1,800 people attended the two-day forum — China’s biggest annual event focused on military diplomacy.
The participants included 99 official delegations and defence ministers from 19 countries, as well as military chiefs, international organization representatives, experts, scholars and observers, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency. The United States also sent a representative.
Former Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu was, however, absent.
Two Chinese senior Rocket Force commanders were dismissed in August and replaced by people from the Air Force and Navy with no experience in nuclear weapons management, a principal responsibility of the Rocket Force.
Research director at the US Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute Roderick Lee said the high-level changes in the Chinese military wouldn’t affect most operational units.
Lee said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington: “If there are lower-echelon guys being taken out as well, that probably has a greater impact. But day-to-day [People’s Liberation Army] operational readiness on the conventional or nuclear side, I doubt it is affected.”
He said the PLA’s administrative and operational functions are designed to be robust to absorb losses from losing even the entire party committee of a unit by having backup plans or processes to fill vacancies and compensate for losses.
Since taking power in 2012, Xi has cracked down on corruption in the military, although some believe he may also be bringing down political opponents.
Lee said since corruption is the norm in China’s military, removing people from higher positions will not make the PLA less stable, as per VOA.
“You [Xi] went through a system; you cleaned house, where corruption was the norm,” he said. “The people that you have left aren’t corrupt. They’re just the least bad option you had left at those senior echelons. It’s hard to expect them not to be tempted again to either get back into corruption or remain corrupt and just try to hide it a little better. So, in that sense, it’s hard to go down from stability.”
Lee, however, said that such a corrupt system may leave Xi with no confidence in the PLA’s ability to accomplish the tasks he requires.
“I think Xi Jinping is probably quite frustrated that approaching a decade of anti-corruption efforts has apparently yielded not a whole lot to show for it because people are still apparently willing to engage in corrupt activities. Not this year, but one or two years ago, there was a whole slew of senior officials in the defence industry that were arrested for corruption issues,” he said, as per VOA.