James Mulvenon

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Military Affairs

The Yuan Stops Here: Xi Jinping and the “CMC Chairman Responsibility System”

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Xi Jinping era has been marked by a greater degree of personalized command, sometimes veering toward cult of personality, than any leadership period since the death of Mao Zedong. 

Mao Zedong Oration in Yan’an, circa 1937
Military Affairs

Hotel Gutian: We Haven’t Had That Spirit Here Since 1929

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, March 19, 2015

In November 2014, Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping used the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the 1929 Gutian Conference to convene a critical meeting on political work in the People’s Liberation Army.

Beijing, China
Military Affairs

Lawyers, Guns and Money: The Coming Show Trial of General Xu Caihou

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On 30 June 2014, the Chinese Communist Party expelled former Politburo member and Central Military Commission vice-chair Xu Caihou for corruption following a three-month investigation. 

Military Affairs

Groupthink? PLA Leading Small Groups and the Prospect for Real Reform and Change in the Chinese Military

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

As a result of the 18th Party Congress and its subsequent plenums, especially the Third Plenum in the fall of 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has embarked on a broad set of institutional reforms, tackling training, political work, command and control, and corruption among others. These reform efforts fall under the purview of newly established “leading groups,” led by senior officials in the relevant offices. This article examines the personnel and institutional makeup of these new groups, outlines their declared and undeclared missions, and assesses the probability of their success.

Military Affairs

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Liaoning?—The PLA Once Again Considers Reorganization

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, March 14, 2014

Since the first sweeping structural reform of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1985, the military media have periodically floated trial balloons about deeper restructuring, but the political realities of the situation have consistently stymied the proposed changes. In early 2014, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the PLA was planning to make the most significant modifications to its command and control structure in almost 30 years, replacing its administrative, geographically oriented military region system with a mission-oriented configuration designed to match the increasing “joint” orientation of its deployed forces. To the surprise of many, official Chinese media organs did not reject the report out of hand, but instead expressed dismay that the information had been disseminated prematurely, and grudgingly acknowledged plans to carry out the changes. This article describes the historical rationale for the current command and control structure of the PLA, analyzes the factors motivating its alteration, and assesses the implications of these latest indications of reform.

Military Affairs

“Comrade, Where’s My Military Car?”—Xi Jinping’s Throwback Mass-Line Campaign to Curb PLA Corruption

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, October 7, 2013

Since the 18th Party Congress in late 2012, CMC Chairman and CCP supremo Xi Jinping has sought to aggressively confront PLA corruption using classic Mao-era methods, including “mass-line educational campaigns” designed to “rectify work style” through criticism and self-criticism. These organizational techniques, combined with discipline inspections and control of the personnel promotion system, allow Xi to quickly place his stamp upon the PLA, though they will not likely root out the deep structural causes of military corruption in the system.

Military Affairs

Military Themes from the 2013 National People’s Congress

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, June 6, 2013

The first plenary session of the 12th National People’s Congress, convened in March 2013, was attended by a large delegation of Chinese military deputies who put forward legislative proposals, listened to government speeches, and met to discuss national military and security issues. This article highlights key military themes from the congress sessions, in particular the role of the PLA in Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping’s vision of the “China dream” and Xi’s three-part “instructions” to the PLA for the coming year.

Military Affairs

The New Central Military Commission

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, January 14, 2013

The advent of the 18th Party Congress in early November 2012 marked a large-scale turnover of senior military personnel in the People’s Liberation Army, including eight out of the ten uniformed members of the leading Central Military Commission. Moreover, the Party’s new general-secretary Xi Jinping also replaced Hu Jintao as CMC chairman, defying expectations that the latter would stay on for an additional two years. This article examines the reasons for Xi’s “early” promotion and profiles the new members, exploring their backgrounds and possible clues to their preferences and outlooks.

Military Affairs

Say Hello to the New Guys

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, October 1, 2012

In late July 2012, six officers, two from the People’s Armed Police and four from the People’s Liberation Army, were promoted to the rank of full general, the highest possible rank in the service. The order was conferred by the presumably outgoing Central Military Commission Chairman, Hu Jintao, but was announced by his likely successor, Xi Jinping. This article examines the backgrounds of these six individuals, assessing whether they might represent new trends under Xi’s leadership.

Military Affairs

The Bo Xilai Affair and the PLA

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, August 6, 2012

On 15 March 2012, Chongqing Municipality leader, princeling and aspiring national elite Bo Xilai was stripped of his leadership posts, following the dramatic flight of his former deputy police chief Wang Lijun to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and revelations about the possible involvement of Bo’s wife in the murder of a British businessman. In the wake of his purge, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Falungong-controlled media were rife with rumors about Bo’s relationships with senior military officers and even a possible coup attempt in Beijing. This article examines Bo’s ties with the PLA through his career, assesses the validity of various claims about the fallout in the military from his purge, and speculates about any possible implications for party-military relations.

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