China Media Project has another update, this one analyzing a huge piece in the People’s Daily:
Over the weekend, we had another hawkish surprise on the front page of the People’s Daily, a piece framed as a lengthy history of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) called, “The Party Commands the Gun, A Fundamental Guarantee of Moving From Victory to Victory.”
The piece covers a lot of territory, from the Nanchang Uprising of August 1, 1927, which marked the start of China’s civil war and the organization of the Red Army (later the PLA), to the Long March, and up to the present day and the PLA’s role, for example, in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. But the basic message of the piece is unmistakable: the Chinese Communist Party controls China’s military, and this is a fact that will never be compromised.
There are a couple of possible meanings, or readings, that can be gleaned from the People’s Daily piece as we approach the 90th anniversary of the CCP:
1. The Party is flaunting is military strength before the people, saying, essentially, “Look, the weapons are in our hands.” We will preserve stability, and we have the means.
2. Top Party leaders are sending a warning to military brass — we are your masters and you had better listen.
We won’t speculate any further as to the background of meaning number 2, but the reasons for 1 are clear enough, given successive incidents of violent social unrest in China, such as riots in Zengcheng earlier this month.
Always fun to try and figure out what they’re getting at with these stories. I sometimes wonder if People’s Daily writers might just blast some stuff like this out for fun. No one is really looking towards the Communist Party for ideology anymore, so why not use your soapbox to make people scratch their heads? Write a long series of conflicting articles, and laugh while the rest of the world tries to figure out what’s happening in the editors office.
Or maybe they really felt the need to emphasize their monopoly on force. Either way.