Xi’s Pick of Paramilitary Deputy Head Signals Further Decline of Jiang Faction

Chinese state media observed that Lt. General Qin Tian, Chief of Staff of the People’s Armed Police (China’s paramilitary), had recently been attending public events as the paramilitary’s deputy commander. Meanwhile, the military’s Northern Theater commander Maj. General Zheng Jiagai appears to have taken up Qin’s office mid-September.

Why it matters: Chinese leader Xi Jinping promoted Qin Tian four times in the past five years, an unthinkable feat during the Jiang faction’s era of dominance (1997-2012) because of a grudge against Qin Tian’s father Qin Jiwei.  

Qin Jiwei was the Minister of Defense and a Politburo member in 1989. He and then General Secretary Zhao Ziyang were opposed to Deng Xiaoping’s plan to impose martial law on the protesting students at Tiananmen Square, while Jiang rose to General Secretary for his hardline stance against the students.

As General Secretary, it’s interesting to note that Jiang often seemed to block Qin’s elder son Qin Weijiang from being promoted for over a decade.

The big picture: Since taking office, Xi has been eroding Jiang’s dominance by purging Jiang faction supporters and promoting Jiang’s rivals and his own former colleagues to top office. The elevation of Qin Tian to deputy commander of the People’s Armed Police signals the further decline of Jiang’s influence.

Note: The People’s Armed Police is the paramilitary force which Zhou Yongkang, Jiang faction elite and Political and Legal Affairs Commission head, mobilized to attempt a coup in 2012.

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