Gathering of Paramilitary Top Brass Shows Xi in Charge

Leading members of the People’s Armed Police, China’s paramilitary, toured a state-backed exhibition in Beijing on Oct. 6. Many of the top brass in attendance, including Armed Police commander Wang Ning and deputy commanders Qin Tian and Wang Bing, were promoted or transferred to the paramilitary after Xi Jinping took office in 2012.

Why it matters: Xi spent the last five years cleansing the Armed Police’s upper rungs of Jiang Zemin faction acolytes and installing trusted officials. Now Xi appears to be in control of a paramilitary force that was once considered to be Jiang’s “private army.”

One of the Jiang faction’s most notorious uses of the paramilitary occurred four days after former Chinese leader Hu Jintao arrested Politburo member and Jiang elite Bo Xilai. On March 19, 2012, then-Political and Legal Affairs head Zhou Yongkang mobilized the Armed Police in Beijing to oust Hu Jintao in a coup, but he was thwarted when Hu mobilized the 38th Group Army.