Sunday, July 21, 2013

Welcome back, General Liu Yazhou

Shake off old ideas, general warns PLA
Liu Yazhou, in an apparent call for political reform, insists the army is at risk of becoming obsolete if it repeats the errors of the past
A liberal-leaning general has warned the military to embrace change or risk losing to international rivals in what analysts say is a veiled call for political reform.
Liu Yazhou

In this month's influential Communist Party magazine Qiushi Journal, General Liu Yazhou wrote that the People's Liberation Army continued to be held back by the same blind adherence to past practice that led to the Qing dynasty's downfall.

Liu, who is political commissar at the National Defence University, argued that the refusal to set aside "old thinking" left the army at risk, despite huge advances in equipment and technology in recent years.

"The most backward army is not the poorly equipped one, but the one filled up with old thinking," Liu wrote. He called on the party to remove barriers to innovation and spend less time on political training and propaganda campaigns exaggerating the military's capabilities.

The army "should try hard to awake from its obsession with self-proclaimed glories, such as [China is] a 'resourceful superpower', and [the PLA is] a 'victory troop'," Liu said.

It is not the first time Liu - the son-in-law of late president Li Xiannian - has sounded the alarm for change in the country's institutions.

His 2004 essay "Western Theory" called on Beijing to enact political reform. Three years ago, he gave an interview to the Phoenix Weekly in which he said China must embrace US-style democracy or risk a Soviet-style collapse.

This month, Ming Pao Monthly reported that Liu had published a "manifesto of military reform" in 2008 carrying a similar call for change in the PLA.

In this latest commentary, Liu steered clear of the sensitive term "democracy". Instead, he called on the Communist Party to seize what he said might be its last chance to push "military reform with Chinese characteristics".

He argued that such reform was consistent with President Xi Jinping's orders to "listen to the party, be capable of victory".

Ho Leong-leong, a Hong Kong-based political commentator, said Liu appeared to be using such slogans to help ensure party members heard his central point.

"The so-called Chinese characteristics in this article are just political rhetoric aimed at passing the censorship of the party's mouthpiece Qiushi," Ho said.

Ni Lexiong , a Shanghai-based military expert, also saw Liu's commentary as a call for political reform. It was warning that the military was heading for another humiliating defeat if it failed to make political reform part of its modernisation drive.

"Political reform will provide a sustainable political foundation to support military development, because both the US and Japan achieved great military achievements after they successfully set up democratic systems," Ni said.

Liu noted the Chinese military had missed out on the last two big revolutions on military technology: the widespread use of firearms in the 17th century and the mechanisation of warfare after the first world war.

He said military technology in such countries as the United States was now undergoing a similar revolution, with a greater focus on cyberwarfare and a shift to smaller military units that can be deployed quickly to any environment. Failing to recognise such changes would be to repeat the mistakes of the Qing dynasty.

The authorities "would inevitably face resistance, risk, unrest and cost," he said. "If [leaders] take [political] cost and risk too seriously, they will be overcautious and indecisive and miss their last historic opportunity."

Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based military expert, said Liu's articles could be seen as an attempt to scare the party into introducing political reform.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Criticizing the Chinese government........will get you promoted. A follow up on the career of Lt General Liu Yazhou

Back in August 2010, Lt General Liu Yazhou, the Political Commissar (PC) of the PLA's National Defense University caused a stir by proclaiming that China must reform or die.

Fast forward to now -- writing for the latest edition of the China Brief (here), Dr Zhang, associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Strategy at the Air War College (USAF), predicts that he is inline as the next Political Commissar of the entire PLAAF. If Dr Zhang's prediction is correct, expect to see a different PLAAF five years from now under General Liu's new leadership.

From Dr Zhang's latest China Brief write-up "The Leadership of the PLAAF after 2012" (here)
General Deng Changyou’s replacement as political commissar will most likely be Lt General Liu Yazhou, who is currently political commissar of the PLA NDU

Striving for an Independent Air Force

As early as 2000, Lt General Liu Yazhou proposed that Chinese military authorities consider reorganizing the PLAAF into functional air commands by separating the air force from the PLA military region (MR) system to become a true independent service. Ostensibly to make the PLAAF a more offensively oriented air force, he further recommended the use of the U.S. Air Force’s “expeditionary force” model to organize air force units into air strike groups with a mix of fighters, bombers, and early warning aircraft [14]. His advocacy for eliminating the ground force dominated military system, however, has received little support from the PLA military establishment.

Blog entry from August 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Lt General Liu Yazhou is on the news again
As the newly promoted Political Commissar (PC) of the PLA's National Defense University (a rank just shy of the CMC) Lt General Liu is once again delivering his provocative view developed from his Chengdu Air Force days -- embrace a US-style democracy or accept a Soviet-style collapse.

Lt General Liu's free airing of his provocative views on both foreign and domestic issues, especially his calls for political reform and for the freedom of expression, is unprecedented. Thus far, his views are not only strengthening his career but also making him one of the most covered personalities by the PLA-watching community. (here) (here) He was a visiting scholar at Stanford University from 1986 to 1987, a fact that might help explain the origin of his "Pro-Western" views.

In addition to being the PC for the National Defense University, Lt General Liu is also serving as a member of the CCP's Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, China's top anti-graft watchdog.

China must reform or die

August 12, 2010

A Chinese two-star general has warned his conservative Communist Party masters and firebrand People's Liberation Army colleagues that China must either embrace US-style democracy or accept Soviet-style collapse.

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