(RepublicanNews.org) – A shakeup is underway in Beijing and control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal has changed hands. President Jinping has appointed General Wang Houbin to oversee China’s stock of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The former deputy commander of the navy will now head the PLA’s Rocket Force.
The President also appointed Xu Xisheng as the unit’s newest political commissar. The move is reported to be the largest purge of military leadership in 10 years. The promotions of the two men came one day before the 96th anniversary of the PLA’s founding.
The duo’s predecessors, Li Yuchao and Lie Guangbin, are rumored to be the subjects of a corruption inquiry. Neither man has been seen in several months.
Xisheng’s previous post was as the deputy political commissar for China’s Southern Theatre Command. The military unit’s area of operation is in the South China Sea.
Foreign policy expert Lyle Morris told the BBC that Jinping’s appointments are “profound” as it relates to China’s “nuclear strategy.” He said that even though the President has been able to “consolidate control” of the nation’s military, he may have further purges planned. Morris indicated that Jinping is “still worried about” party loyalty and “corruption in the ranks.”
Communist power structures dictate that military leaders have political counterparts known as commissars that serve alongside them. In China’s case, their duty is to ensure that CCP ideology and policy are being adhered to. For instance, PLA submarine commanders are required to make decisions in tandem with their onboard commissar.
Even in cases where the commander is given sole discretion, his actions are evaluated by the commissar after the fact. Operational decisions are often made by a committee, and in some cases, the commissar has the authority to override the senior-ranking military officer.
A 2020 report suggested that political commissars in the Chinese Navy may have been to blame for many of the “irrational” and “confrontational” ship movements reported by the U.S. Navy.
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