China reorganizes military departments

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-12 0:53:01

15 new organs to centralize power

China on Monday announced the restructuring of its four military departments into 15 organs under the Central Military Commission (CMC), a change that analysts say will centralize power under the CMC to improve the efficiency of the military and curb corruption.

The new structure includes three commissions - discipline inspection, politics and law, and science and technology - as well as the general office and five more: administration, auditing, international cooperation, reform and organizational structure, and strategic planning. There are six new departments: joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training, and national defense.

Previously, all these functions came under just four headquarters under the People's Liberation Army (PLA) - General Staff, General Political, General Logistics and General Armaments.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the CMC, met with the new chiefs of each agency on Monday. He described the restructure as a "breakthrough" and called the new leadership system "a crucial step" toward a stronger military.

Following the three principles of the absolute authority of the CMC, battle zone commands focusing on combat, and each branch of the military service pursuing its own ends, the new structure will better advise and serve the CMC, while enforcing CMC orders, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The reshuffle of the CMC departments highlights the centralized leadership of the CMC in both administration and command of the PLA, which will ensure the multiple-department CMC becomes more efficient in supervision and coordination, Chinese military experts said Monday.

It also embodies the military reform outline issued at the end of November, which included adjusting CMC headquarters system and adopting multiple departments under the CMC, experts have said.

Gong Fangbin, a professor at the PLA's National Defense University, told the Global Times that the previous four headquarters had possessed excessive power that detracted from the CMC's decision-making ability.

"The system easily triggered buck-passing and conflicts of interest among different departments, but it will not be the case as the reshuffle empowers the CMC to be responsible for all the decision-making," Gong said.

The reshuffle means that the CMC can give direct orders to battle command zones in combat without notifying the General Staff department and different services, Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.

The establishment of a joint staff department shows that China will focus on joint operations among all service branches, including the army, air force, navy and the rocket force.

Previously, under the management of the General Staff department, joint operations were limited to army troops and ignored other services. 

Battle tactics

China announced the launch of the PLA Rocket Force along with the PLA Army General Command and the PLA Strategic Support Force on December 31 as part of the military revamp, which designated the rocket force as the fourth service on a par with the army, navy and air force. 

In the meeting with the new heads of the 15 organs, Xi urged the reorganized organs to focus on winning wars as their central task. CMC organs must concentrate on the study of military affairs, wars and battle tactics, and strengthen their awareness in preparing for war at any time, said Xi.

Xi urged military leaders to unswervingly follow the Communist Party of China's absolute leadership over the armed forces. Xi said that military leaders of the new organs must adhere to the Party spirit, obey political discipline, and "be politically intelligent," with firm political faith and the right political stance.

Major General Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said that the reshuffle will prevent graft and prevent military leaders from acting beyond their authority by separating the agencies responsible for Party discipline, law and auditing from the four departments.

The audit office, previously under the General Logistics department, could better supervise the financial problems of the military by sending representatives to combat zones as now comes under direct control of the CMC, Xu said.

The case of Gu Junshan was a result of lack of economic supervision by the audit department, he said.

Gu, former deputy head of the General Logistics department, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in August for corruption.

The discipline inspection commission, previously affiliated to the General Political department, is now responsible for Party construction and discipline supervision over the entire military, according to Gong. 

Xinhua contributed to this story

Posted in: Military

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