Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

Politics Watch: Decoding the Convening of Enlarged Military Meetings

◎ Xi is likely seeking to strengthen his control over the military in a crucial period.

Provincial military commands in several provinces held enlarged plenary meetings this week, according to state media reports on Jan. 10.

The key points relayed in those enlarged meetings include:
1. Pass on and learn from the “spirit of the Central Military Commission enlarged meeting.”

2. Pass on the spirit of the enlarged meetings of the local military theater Party committee and the National Defense Mobilization Department of the CMC.

3. Emphasize the studying and implementation of “Xi Jinping Thought” and “Xi Jinping Thought on Military Strengthening.”

4. Uphold the Xi “core” leadership, the authority of the CCP Central Committee, and the CMC chairman responsibility system.

5. Review the work in 2018, and prepare the 2019 missions.

The backdrop:
1. Xi Jinping chaired a meeting of the CMC on Jan. 4. During the meeting, he ordered the military to “enhance combat readiness” and signed a mobilization order for the training of troops.

2. In recent weeks, four of the PLA’s five major branches (Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force) and the People’s Armed Police held ceremonies for the promotion of major generals (45 in total).

The big picture:
1. The week of Jan. 7 saw China and the United States hold vice ministerial-level trade negotiations in Beijing.

2. The rescheduling of provincial-level “Two Sessions” suggests that the 19th CCP Central Committee could hold its Fourth Plenum near the end of the month.

Our take:
1. From the official news reports of the enlarged military meetings and the over 100 attendees of the CMC meeting on Jan. 4, it appears that the Jan. 4 CMC meeting was an enlarged meeting.

Xi Jinping might have convened an enlarged meeting of the CMC to further consolidate his authority and demand that the military show its fealty to the Xi “core.”

2. Many observers believe that Xi’s call for the PLA to “enhance combat readiness” is aimed at threatening Taiwan since the CMC meeting (Jan. 4) was held shortly after Xi made a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of improving PRC-ROC relations (Jan. 2).

While we concur that the CMC meeting may be held with Taiwan in mind, we believe that it had the more pressing purpose of suppressing domestic political tensions to allow Xi to convene the Fourth Plenum. (See our Dec. 17 analysis: “Xi’s Reform Anniversary Speech Signals Political Crisis in China”)

3. Per the CCP’s past practices, the CMC usually hold enlarged meetings when the CCP regime is about to make major policy direction changes or when there is a shift in political power. For instance, Deng Xiaoping handed over the CMC chairmanship to Jiang Zemin at a CMC enlarged meeting on November 1989; the September 2004 CMC enlarged meeting saw Jiang pass on the CMC chairmanship to Hu Jintao; and Hu transferred the CMC chairmanship to Xi Jinping in November 2012.

The CCP typically does not publicly report that a CMC enlarged meeting had been convened. A rare exception is the November 2012 meeting, which was publicized in a high-profile manner.

Search past entries by date
“The breadth of SinoInsider’s insights—from economics through the military to governance, all underpinned by unparalleled reporting on the people in charge—is stunning. In my over fifty years of in-depth reading on the PRC, unclassified and classified, SinoInsider is in a class all by itself.”
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Unique insights are available frequently from the reports of Sinoinsider.”
Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow for China Strategy, The Heritage Foundation
“Thank you for your information and analysis. Very useful.”
Prof. Ravni Thakur, University of Delhi, India
“SinoInsider’s research has helped me with investing in or getting out of Chinese companies.”
Charles Nelson, Managing Director, Murdock Capital Partners
“I value SinoInsider because of its always brilliant articles touching on, to name just a few, CCP history, current trends, and factional politics. Its concise and incisive analysis — absent the cliches that dominate China policy discussions in DC and U.S. corporate boardrooms — also represents a major contribution to the history of our era by clearly defining the threat the CCP poses to American peace and prosperity and global stability. I am grateful to SinoInsider — long may it thrive!”
Lee Smith, Author and journalist
“Your publication insights tremendously help us complete our regular analysis on in-depth issues of major importance. ”
Ms. Nicoleta Buracinschi, Embassy of Romania to the People’s Republic of China
"I’m a very happy, satisfied subscriber to your service and all the deep information it provides to increase our understanding. SinoInsider is profoundly helping to alter the public landscape when it comes to the PRC."
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Prof. Ming’s information about the Sino-U.S. trade war is invaluable for us in Taiwan’s technology industry. Our company basically acted on Prof. Ming’s predictions and enlarged our scale and enriched our product lines. That allowed us to deal capably with larger orders from China in 2019. ”
Mr. Chiu, Realtek R&D Center
“I am following China’s growing involvement in the Middle East, seeking to gain a better understanding of China itself and the impact of domestic constraints on its foreign policy. I have found SinoInsider quite helpful in expanding my knowledge and enriching my understanding of the issues at stake.”
Ehud Yaari, Lafer International Fellow, The Washington Institute
“SinoInsider’s research on the CCP examines every detail in great depth and is a very valuable reference. Foreign researchers will find SinoInsider’s research helpful in understanding what is really going on with the CCP and China. ”
Baterdene, Researcher, The National Institute for Security Studies (Mongolian)
“The forecasts of Prof. Chu-cheng Ming and the SinoInsider team are an invaluable resource in guiding our news reporting direction and anticipating the next moves of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.”
Chan Miu-ling, Radio Television Hong Kong China Team Deputy Leader
“SinoInsider always publishes interesting and provocative work on Chinese elite politics. It is very worthwhile to follow the work of SinoInsider to get their take on factional struggles in particular.”
Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London
“[SinoInsider has] been very useful in my class on American foreign policy because it contradicts the widely accepted argument that the U.S. should work cooperatively with China. And the whole point of the course is to expose students to conflicting approaches to contemporary major problems.”
Roy Licklider, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
“As a China-based journalist, SinoInsider is to me a very reliable source of information to understand deeply how the CCP works and learn more about the factional struggle and challenges that Xi Jinping may face. ”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“SinoInsider offers an interesting perspective on the Sino-U.S. trade war and North Korea. Their predictions are often accurate, which is definitely very helpful.”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“I have found SinoInsider to provide much greater depth and breadth of coverage with regard to developments in China. The subtlety of the descriptions of China's policy/political processes is absent from traditional media channels.”
John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Kissinger Center for Global Affairs
“My teaching at Cambridge and policy analysis for the UK audience have been informed by insights from your analyzes. ”
Dr Kun-Chin Lin, University Lecturer in Politics,
Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University
" SinoInsider's in-depth and nuanced analysis of Party dynamics is an excellent template to train future Sinologists with a clear understanding that what happens in the Party matters."
Stephen Nagy, Senior Associate Professor, International Christian University
“ I find Sinoinsider particularly helpful in instructing students about the complexities of Chinese politics and what elite competition means for the future of the US-China relationship.”
Howard Sanborn, Professor, Virginia Military Institute
“SinoInsider has been one of my most useful (and enjoyable) resources”
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Professor Ming and his team’s analyses of current affairs are very far-sighted and directionally accurate. In the present media environment where it is harder to distinguish between real and fake information, SinoInsider’s professional perspectives are much needed to make sense of a perilous and unpredictable world. ”
Liu Cheng-chuan, Professor Emeritus, National Chiayi University