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Xi Jinping is Losing Control of China’s Military


China’s commander-in-chief Xi Jinping is waging war on his own military, ruthlessly purging generals who oppose his reckless aims. 

As Xi intimidates Taiwan and flexes his muscles in front of the United States, his top brass fears catastrophe. They know the troops don’t want to fight for a leader who views them as pawns. But Xi is obsessed with projecting strength, whatever the cost. His escalating attacks on the military leadership reveal a desperate dictator, not a confident one. 

Rather than rally around their tyrannical president, China’s soldiers may desert if Xi drags them into his conquests abroad. His Officers know this path leads to disaster, but the madman of Beijing may plunge the world into war before he faces the truth.

Does this spell disaster for China’s military amid already high geopolitical tensions?

Military analysts reveal that Xi Jinping has declared war on his own generals, ruthlessly removing those who won’t bend to his warmongering vision.

According to senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and China expert, Gordon Chang, Xi seeks total control over the military, purging commanders unwilling to invade Taiwan or confront the U.S. He wants obedient officers who will fight on command. But Xi faces intense resistance within his officer corps. 

“There is a sense that many of China’s general officers don’t want to fight,” according to Chang. “And so we really have a force led by an officer corps that is ambivalent about going to war.”

The military leadership doesn’t share its commander’s hunger for battle. As Chang describes, many generals actively oppose Xi’s aggression, realizing the troops are ill-prepared for war.

This indicates Xi has a desperate grip on power. His position is weakened by a military establishment reluctant to enable his risky foreign adventures. The more Xi attacks his own generals, the more resistance he garners. His brutal purges reveal a dictatorial leader desperately attempting to impose control, not a confident commander rallying loyal forces. Xi’s civil war with the military may ultimately be his undoing.

Since becoming president in 2012, Xi Jinping has radically reshaped China’s military through extensive reforms. He has cut personnel, improved military-civilian ties, and overhauled organizational structure.

Xi’s overhaul reached new heights in December of last year, when he abruptly dismissed nine top generals in one bold stroke. This mass purge of senior officers was the culmination of Xi’s years-long effort to transform the military into his personal enforcement arm.

By installing loyalists and removing opposing voices, Xi seeks to ensure the military will execute his commands without question. 

The recent purge sends a chilling message – generals who doubt Xi’s judgment do so at their own peril. Xi’s reform agenda is fundamentally about consolidating personal control, not strengthening China strategically. His recklessness risks instigating dangerous rifts within military leadership.

Since then, media reports and US intelligence claim Xi’s motive in the mass dismissal of generals was to eliminate corruption – a motive often cited when Chinese officials are suddenly dismissed.

However, this theory doesn’t make sense to China expert Gordon Chang, who argues this explanation falls short. If rooting out graft was truly Xi’s aim, he would have sacked all military leaders.

Instead, Chang believes Xi is specifically targeting generals opposed to war. Those purged are commanders reluctant to invade Taiwan or engage in military confrontation abroad.

Chang cites the case of General Liu Yazhou of the Chinese Air Force.

Liu cautioned against attacking Taiwan and subsequently received a suspended death sentence in February of 2022. This exemplifies how Xi ruthlessly eliminates dissenting voices in the military hierarchy.

In purging anti-war generals under the guise of an anti-corruption drive, Xi forcibly remolds the military into a force prepared to enact his dangerous foreign policy ambitions. However, this risks provoking wider discontent within the ranks. Xi may find that the more generals he pressures, the more resistance he fuels.

Joel Wuthnow of the National Defense University in Washington, DC offers another perspective – Xi’s purges achieve the dual aims of eliminating corruption while preparing for war.

In Wuthnow’s view, the dismissal of nine senior rocket force commanders reveals Xi’s concerns about military capabilities. He invested heavily in the rocket forces over the past decade but doubts their readiness.

By removing questionable commanders of this crucial branch, Xi strengthens loyalty while addressing potential weaknesses. If rocket force equipment malfunctions during conflict, China’s prospects of victory diminish.

“The removals indicate that Xi should be concerned about the quality of people and equipment he has invested in over the last decade. If that equipment malfunctions or can’t be relied on, how confident can Xi and his colleagues be that the PLA will prevail?” Wuthnow said.

So, Xi preemptively replaces generals he deems incompetent or disloyal. But in doing so, he provokes resentment in the officer corps by upending careers without due process. 

Xi’s purge is a high-risk gamble driven by paranoid politics, not reasoned strategy. His polarizing approach could backfire badly if he drives the military into open defiance.

And it seems that Xi is plunging himself into a full-blown conflict.

China already faces ongoing tensions with its neighbors – disputes with India in the Himalayas, Japan in the East China Sea, the Philippines in the South China Sea, and most dangerously, Taiwan.

After frequent Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s airspace in recent years, some U.S military officials now see a Taiwan invasion as imminent.

Yet Xi continues to threaten Taiwan with inevitable “reunification”, despite the likelihood of catastrophe. His hardline statements box himself in politically, making conciliation difficult.

And with Taiwan\s recent election results, which saw pro-sovereignty candidate Lai Ching-te winning the election and becoming president, Xi will only be even more hardlined on going into war.

In fact, China’s foreign minister warned that any steps towards Taiwan’s independence would be “harshly punished,” after Ching-te’s victory, knowing his pro-sovereignty views on Taiwan’s independence.

Rather than exercise caution, Xi is recklessly committing China to military confrontation through his own aggressive language.

He seems unaware or ambivalent about sparking a regional war that could spiral out of control. With little room left for diplomacy, Xi’s insistence makes armed conflict a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Xi seems to be dangerously escalating his warlike rhetoric more than ever before, boxing himself into a corner.

In his 2023 New Year’s address, Xi declared China and Taiwan will “will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” according to the official translation of his speech, sending an implicitly threatening message.

He doubled down in a November 2023 meeting with President Biden, bluntly stating China’s intent to seize control of Taiwan.

This follows a pattern of belligerence from Xi, including warning Biden in 2021 that U.S. support for Taiwan was “playing with fire.”

Rather than exercise diplomacy, Xi continues down a reckless path of threats and intimidation toward Taiwan. His coercive language commits China to an increasingly aggressive posture, closing off opportunities for peaceful reconciliation.

With each threatening statement, Xi further narrows his options while inflaming tensions. His militant rhetoric serves to undermine stability rather than bolster China’s long-term strategic interests.

He seems to be diving head-first into an all out war.

Some however, believe Xi is now more cautious following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Joel Wuthnow argues Xi has grown more cautious after observing Russia’s struggles in Ukraine. Wuthnow believes Xi grasps that a military misadventure could destabilize his domestic power, as happened to Putin.

“Russia has paid an enormous price for its misadventure, and China would as well. Moreover, a failed invasion would be worse for Xi politically than not trying at all,” he said.

In Wuthnow’s view, Xi realizes China would pay an enormous price in a failed Taiwan invasion, damaging him politically. Having seen Putin’s disaster in Ukraine, Xi now understands that restraint, not aggression, better serves his hold on power.

This contrast reveals how Xi is torn between conflicting imperatives. On one hand, his tough rhetoric narrows his options, backing him into armed conflict. 

But on the other, he wishes to avoid strategic overreach that could undo his regime. Xi’s Taiwan policy may depend on whether he yields to belligerent rhetoric or pragmatic caution. 

And now, the world watches nervously to see which impulse prevails.

The current global instability mirrors the 1930s and risks escalating into World War III. Numerous flashpoints already exist – Ukraine, Africa, and the Middle East. The perfect conditions seem to be aligned for these regional conflicts to merge into one worldwide battle.

As China adopts an increasingly authoritarian posture under Xi, long-stable norms are now collapsing.

Unless Xi pivots to restraint and diplomacy, he may spark the very global cataclysm he hopes to avoid. 

If so, the 21st century may tragically come to mirror the horrors of the 20th.

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