Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A new game plan for China’s nuclear arsenal?

Xi is quickly consolidating his grip on the military
Xi Jinping seems more interested than his predecessors in the Second Artillery Corps. What are the implications for China’s future defense posture?  

In a system where order and sequences have a highly symbolic value, Xi Jinping’s first promotion of a military officer to generalship, added to a high-profile visit last week, can tells us a few things about his priorities for the military and what to look out for in the future. More than any other branch of the People’s Liberation Army, the Second Artillery Corps — which controls the country’s conventional and nuclear ballistic missile arsenal — appears to be where Xi’s interest lies. 

Xi’s first act as the newly appointed chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) was to promote Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe, the 58-year-old commander-in-chief of the Second Artillery and a CMC member, to full general on November 23. Aside from increasing defense spending, the promotion of senior officers is regarded as the best way for Chinese leaders to consolidate their power over the armed forces. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

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