Xi to Put Troops on Alert for 6 Months

According to Hong Kong media, the Chinese Communist Party recently issued two directives:

The military readiness state will be fixed at Level III from September 18, 2017 to March 20, 2018.

All provincial level officials are barred from leaving the country.

Context: The Chinese military has four military readiness states, with Level IV representing peacetime readiness and Level I representing imminent armed conflict with foreign countries.

Level III readiness requires military troops to patrol public places with loaded weapons. The current directive will span two key Communist Party meetings, the 19th Party Congress on October 18 and the Two Sessions next March.

Why it matters: Since 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s has purged 1.21 million officials (78% of all officials) under his anti-corruption campaign. The majority of officials purged have been high-ranking cronies of former leader Jiang Zemin. Jiang and his associates face losing their factional battle and going to prison if Xi and his anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan maintain power through the 19th Congress.

Jiang’s faction could resort to desperate measures to protect their base if they feel threatened by Xi. It would not be unthinkable for the Jiang faction to trigger social unrest, launch a coup, or attempt to assassinate Xi Jinping. Keeping the military at a heightened readiness level allows Xi to deter possible Jiang faction sabotage, and ensure the safety of his relatives and top officials in his camp.

Meanwhile, barring provincial officials from traveling abroad prevents senior Jiang faction members from escaping anti-corruption investigators, should they come knocking.