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Central Military Commission Membership

On 18 October 2010 during the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th National Congress CPC including 370 party members, the Central Committee announced that the Central Military Commission was augmented to include Xi Jinping as a Vice-Chairman, a role previously held by Hu Jintao immediately prior to his ascension to General Secretary, China’s leader.

Mr. Xi’s appointment will have little immediate effect on Xi’s power as Hu Jiantao and his top generals will remain in control of the nations military. Hu is likely to retire in late 2012 and it is largely suspected that Mr. Xi will take China ’s top job then.

On 19 September 2004 China's former President Jiang Zemin retired from his post as chairman of the powerful central military commission, completing the transfer of power to President Hu Jintao. The news that Jiang Zemin had handed over the top post of the military commission to Hu Jintao followed weeks of speculation that Mr. Hu's supporters in the Communist Party leadership were pressuring Mr. Jiang to step aside. Jiang Zemin's resignation came as his popularity waned and Hu Jintao's rose - even among the military - as the new president worked to solidify his agenda. Some in China resented what they saw as an ultra-capitalist society associated with Jiang Zemin's vision.

During the 16th CPC National Congress, held 8-15 November 2002, a new CMC was selected. Jiang Zemin, the old guard's civilian contemporary, stayed on as head of the world's largest military even as he relinquishes command of the Communist Party after 13 years in power. Hu Jintao stayed on as Vice Chairman.

Four newly elected members of the CMC became heads of the PLA's four departments. General Liang Guanglie, 61, former commander of the Nanjing Military Area Command, replaced Fu Quanyou, 72, as chief of the military's general staff. General Xu Caihou, 59, former deputy director of the PLA's political department was promoted to head the department, taking the place of Yu Yongbo, 71. General Liao Xilong, 62, was appointed head of the logistics department from his position of chief of the Chengdu Military Area Command, replacing 71-year-old Wang Ke. General Li Jinai, 59, former commissar of the armaments department, took over the department from Cao Gangchuan, 66. General Cao Gangchuan and General Guo Boxiong, 59, a former executive deputy chief of the general staff, were both elected vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission at the Party Congress, replacing Zhang Wannian, 74, and Chi Haotian, 73. Cao and Guo are also elected to the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee. Also in the reshuffle, General Ge Zhenfeng, former head of the Military Science Academy, was promoted to be the deputy to Liang Guanglie. And, General Zhang Wentai, former commissar of Jinan Military Area Command, will now be the commissar of PLA's the logistics department.

The Communist Party's decision to retain Jiang Zemin as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission effectively sustains his channels into the party bureaucracy and guarantees his influence on Chinese politics. Although the duration of his office is uncertain, many experts believe he may keep the post from 2-3 years or until the next party congress in 2007; depending on his health and the ability of his protg, Zeng Qinghong to succeed as the Standing Committee's new member. Cao Gangchuan's selection as a uniformed vice chairman virtually ensures he will be the next Defense Minister. Aside from Jiang's continuation, Liang's selection as the new Chief of the General Staff is seen as the most important. As the former commander of the Nanjing Military District and a reputed expert on amphibious operations, he will be the one who advises the CMC on any future Taiwan Strait conflict.

On 30 April 2004 the pro-Beijing the Chinese-language Wen Wei Po newspaper in Hong Kong reported that China would expand the membership of the military's top decision-making body. The number of members of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission would be expanded to 11 from 8. At the enlarged CMC meeting alongside the Fourth Plenary Session of the Communist Party Central Committee in late 2004, the commanders of the navy, air force and missiles forces. Sources agree that the air force commander is General Qiao Qingchen. Sources are in dispute as to whether the curent Navy commander is Vice Admiral Zhang Dingfa, or Admiral Shi Yunsheng [it seems the later retired in 2003, but not everyone noticed]. Sources also dispute whether the second artillery corps commander is Lieutenant-General Jing Zhiyuan or General Yang Guoliang, though the more authoritative sources vouch for the later.

In December 2004 it was reported that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin had asked to resign from his chairmanship of the state Central Military Commission (CMC). The upcoming parliamentary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in March 2005 will discuss and decide on a request from Mr Jiang to resign and will also elect his successor. The NPC session would start on March 5. Jiang's retirement from the post has been widely expected since September 2004 when he handed the chairmanship of the party CMC, which commands the military, to President and party chief Hu Jintao, completing the first orderly succession in Chinese communist history.



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