James Mulvenon

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Military Affairs

Reduced Budgets, the "Two Centers," and Other Mysteries of the 2003 National People's Congress

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

As explored in my submission to CLM 3, the National People's Congress (NPC) meetings, particularly the publicized People's Liberation Army (PLA) delegate discussion sessions, are a consistently useful barometer of the state of party-army relations. This article examines the makeup of the military delegation, outlines the issues highlighted in PLA leaders' speeches and delegates' comments, and analyzes the announced defense budget. Special attention is paid to an article in Liberation Army Daily by Wang Wenjie, particularly a cryptic comment made by a PLA delegate about the problems posed by "two centers," which some analysts took as a criticism of the divided leadership of Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

Military Affairs

To Get Rich Is Unprofessional: Chinese Military Corruption in the Jiang Era

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Corruption among Chinese officers and enlisted personnel continues to be a point of tension between civilian and military elites in China. While the level of corruption reached its apex during the late 1980s and early 1990s, affectionately known as the "go-go" years of PLA, Inc., the repercussions of the center's decision in 1998 to divest the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of its commercial operations are still being felt in the system. For the first time, investigators and prosecutors from outside the military apparatus were given the authority to probe and pursue PLA malfeasance, and many in the military felt that the civilians pursued their assignment with far too much vigor and tenacity. This animosity was further exacerbated by reports of PLA complicity in the massive Yuanhua scandal in Xiamen and by the public prosecution of former General Staff Department intelligence chief General Ji Shengde on multiple counts of corruption. This paper analyzes PLA corruption since Tiananmen, with special emphasis on the civil-military aspects of the issue. The first section outlines the course and character of PLA corruption since 1990, as well as efforts by the military and civilian leadership to stamp it out. Particular attention is paid to the divestiture process in 1998, as well as the Yuanhua and Ji Shengde investigations. The article then concludes with an evaluation of the implications of these trends for Chinese civil-military relations and offers predictions for the future.

Military Affairs

The PLA and the 16th Party Congress: Jiang Controls the Gun?

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, January 30, 2003

For Western observers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the 16th Party Congress presented a curious mixture of the past, the present, and the future. Jiang Zemin's long-rumored and ultimately successful bid to retain the chairmanship of the Central Military Commission (CMC) brought back memories of party-army relations in the late 1980s before Tiananmen. At the same time, the new crop of PLA leaders elevated to the CMC represents the present and future PLA, possessing high levels of experience, training, and education, and thus professionalism. This article explores the implications of Jiang's gambit, analyzes the retirements of senior PLA leaders and the biographies of their replacements, and offers some predictions about the choice of defense minister and the future course of Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-PLA relations.

Military Affairs

Cao Gangchuan: A Political Biography

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Cao Gangchuan’s Military Career Cao Gangchuan was born in Wugang, Henan Province, in December 1935. At age 19, he joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and was immediately sent to study artillery and ordnance at two entry-level technical schools, at the latter of which he graduated to serve as a teacher for one year. In 1956, he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and was singled out for Russian language education to prepare him for six years of study at a prestigious artillery engineering school in the Soviet Union. When Cao returned to the PLA in 1963, he began a long career in the equipment and ordnance system within the Beijing staff departments. For 12 years, including the time of the Cultural Revolution, he worked as a low-level officer in the munitions offices of the General Logistics Department. From the mid-1970s, Cao moved over to assume increasing responsibilities in the equipment departments of the General Staff Department (GSD), serving as deputy director of the Military Equipment Department from 1982-89. During this period, sources close to General Cao confirm that he often traveled to Europe and Russia on procurement delegations. After Tiananmen in 1989, General Cao directly oversaw this commerce as director of the Office of Military Trade under the Central Military Commission.

Military Affairs

The PLA and the "Three Represents": Jiang's Bodyguards or Party-Army?

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

In July 2001, Jiang Zemin gave an important speech at the Central Party School, formally introducing the concept of the "three represents," which calls for some dramatic changes in inner-party democracy and ideology. Even before this speech, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) had been one of the strongest institutional proponents of these new concepts. This article examines the PLA's interpretation of these ideas, as well as the civil-military dynamic driving their praise of Jiang Zemin as the author of the concepts.

Military Affairs

The 2002 National People's Congress Session and the Chinese Army: Budgets, Personnel, and Regulations

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

The annual session of the National People's Congress held in March addressed concerns of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in three important areas. First, its announcement of the year's defense allocations within the larger state budget sheds light on the pace and scope of China's military modernization effort. Second, roughly ten percent of the delegates to the People's Congress and media attention to their deliberations provides insight into ongoing military issues. Last, the session adopted new regulations that illuminate institutional and doctrinal trends in China's military.

Military Affairs

Wang Ke: A Political Biography

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Wang Ke was born Wang Maoqing in August 1931 in Xiaoxian County, Jiangsu Province (later Anhui Province). In the early 1940s, this part of Jiangsu became an operating base for the New Fourth Army. With only an elementary school education, Wang joined the local unit of the New Fourth Army as a “young soldier” at the age of 13, serving as a communicator for the armed working team of Xiaoxian County. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) commander of the local military subdistrict was Zhang Zhen, a future top People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officer and powerful patron for Wang for the remainder of his career. Wang was reportedly personally trained by Zhang, who sent him first for additional education and tactics instruction.

Military Affairs

Chi Haotian: A Political Biography

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Chi Haotian has a unique profile among the current military leadership, combining combat experience and military professional skills with a long career in political work. As a result, he embodies the PLA's seemingly contradictory goals of politicization and professionalization.

Military Affairs

PLA Divestiture and Civil-Military Relations: Implications for the Sixteenth Party Congress Leadership

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

More than three years have passed since the December 1998 announcement that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) had formally divested itself from commercial operations. The intervening period has witnessed the expected "mop-up" campaigns on the part of the central leadership and significant resistance and foot-dragging on the part of local military officials, repeating the pattern of rectifications in the system since the late 1980s. Given Hu Jintao's role as official head of the central leading group overseeing divestiture and his widely expected ascension to the central leadership core at the Sixteenth Party Congress, the time seems ripe for a re-examination of the civil-military features of divestiture and their implications for the future party-army relationship.

Military Affairs

Civil-Military Relations and the EP-3 Crisis: A Content Analysis

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

The conduct of the Chinese government during the recent EP-3 crisis raised important questions about the state of civil-military relations in China. Observers at the time were divided as to whether the comments of senior military leaders and editorials in military newspapers were different in content than their civilian counterparts. They were also divided over whether these differences reflected only variations in propaganda or actual institutional divergence. In addition, most analysts seemed convinced that the military monopolized critical information flows to the leadership, especially data about the causes of the collision and the lack of mayday calls by the EP-3, thus tying the hands of Foreign Ministry negotiators and perhaps even unnecessarily drawing out the crisis. Using interviews, some secondary sources, and detailed content analysis of civilian and military media during the crisis, this essay explores these themes.

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