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31 Jul 2017

Xi breathes fire on invaders.... WHAT THE CHINESE SHOW OF MIGHT MEANS

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army get ready for the parade at Zhurihe military training base in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, on Sunday. (Reuters)
TT, July 30: When the mighty dragon breathes fire, everyone else starts playing the blind men and the elephant.
Chinese President Xi Jinping slipped into mottled green battle fatigues, sported a field cap and told a show of strength by the world's largest army that it can vanquish "invading armies".
"I firmly believe that our gallant military has both confidence and ability to defeat all invading enemies," Xi said, presiding over a military parade at the remote Zhurihe training base in China's northern Inner Mongolia region.
"Troops across the entire military, you must be unwavering in upholding the bedrock principle of absolute party leadership of the military," Xi said at the parade, held to mark 90 years since the founding of the People's Liberation Army. "Always obey and follow the party. Go and fight wherever the party points."
Xi, in military fatigues, inspects the troops. (AP)
This is the first time China has marked Army Day, which formally falls on August 1, with a military parade since the communist revolution of 1949, state news agency Xinhua said. This is also the first time that Xi, who heads the central military commission that holds overall command of the PLA, has reviewed troops in the field in this manner, Xinhua added.
Thousands of troops marched in combat garb, not dress uniforms. Inspecting troops from a jeep, Xi travelled down a long strip lined with tanks and missile launchers.
Xi repeatedly shouted "Hello comrades!" and "Comrades, you are working hard!" into four microphones fixed atop his motorcade. The troops bellowed back: "Serve the people!", "Follow the Party!" and "Fight to win!"
So, what message was Xi sending and to whom?
Since China and India are locked in a standoff over disputed territory in Bhutan, some assumed Xi was issuing a warning to India.
But Xi made no mention of the month-long military standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim section. Still those who wanted to read a connection continued to do so, pointing out that his remarks came in the midst of a shrill official campaign accusing Indian troops of trespassing into Chinese territory.
International China watchers smelt a far broader plan. They felt that Xi was opening a public campaign to deepen his grip on power in a coming leadership shake-up, using the huge military parade, speeches and propaganda, along with a purge in the past week, to warn officials to back him as China's most powerful leader in two decades.
Mao famously said that political power flows from the barrel of a gun, and Xi signalled that he too was counting on the military to stay ramrod loyal while he chose a new leading line-up, to be unveiled at a communist party congress in the autumn.
The parade was the highlight of a week of political theatre promoting Xi as a uniquely qualified politician whose elevated status as China's "core" leader, endorsed by officials last year, should be entrenched at the party congress.
"These military parades could become a regular, institutionalised thing, but this one also has a special meaning this year," said Deng Yuwen, former editor of a party newspaper in Beijing. "It's meant to show that Xi Jinping firmly has the military in his grip, and nobody should have any illusions of challenging him."
Defence analysts saw another reason. China's armed forces, the world's largest, are in the midst of an ambitious modernisation programme, which includes investment in technology and new equipment such as stealth fighters and aircraft carriers, as well as cuts to troop numbers.
Some of the military reforms have been controversial at home. Sources with ties to the military say Xi's announcement in 2015 to cut 300,000 troops has caused unease within the ranks. Against such a backdrop, a high-voltage pep talk assumes relevance.
China is also concerned over the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula, over which the US flew two supersonic B-1B bombers after North Korea's recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Reporting by Reuters, PTI and New York Times News Service

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