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Xi Jinping’s Military Purge: A High-Stakes Game in the Shadow of World War III | World News

Xi Jinping, China’s ‘President for life‘, is reportedly engaged in a significant struggle within the ranks of China’s military, aiming to purge senior commanders and reshape the military for potential combat scenarios. According to military analysts, Xi’s primary objective is to ensure that the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is prepared and willing to engage in warfare.
Gordon Chang, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and author of “China Is Going to War,” explained to Business Insider that Xi is “trying to gain control of the military, and I think that he is thinking that he needs officers who are prepared to actually fight.” Chang further said, “There is a sense that many of China’s general officers don’t want to fight,” indicating a possible reluctance within the Chinese military to engage in active combat.
Since Xi’s ascension to power in 2012, he has implemented sweeping reforms in China’s military, significantly reducing personnel, improving military-civilian cooperation, and altering its structure. These efforts culminated on December 29, 2023, when Xi dismissed nine senior officers in a dramatic move. Reports and US intelligence suggest that these dismissals were partly to eradicate corruption, a commonly cited reason for the abrupt removal of Chinese officials. However, Chang believes the underlying reason is Xi’s desire to eliminate officers hesitant about going to war, the Business Insider report said.
An example cited by Chang is the case of Chinese Air Force General Liu Yazhou, who advised against an invasion of Taiwan and received a suspended death sentence in February 2022.
Joel Wuthnow, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, posited that rooting out corruption aligns with preparing for war, indicating Xi’s concern about the quality of his military leadership and equipment. The dismissed commanders were involved with China’s Rocket Force, pivotal in any military campaign. Wuthnow questioned the reliability of this equipment, asking, “If that equipment malfunctions or can’t be relied on, how confident can Xi and his colleagues be that the PLA will prevail?”
Escalating tensions and potential for conflict
China has been involved in low-level hostilities with neighboring countries like India, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Xi’s rhetoric has intensified, particularly regarding Taiwan. In his New Year’s address, Xi asserted, “We 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.” This stance was reiterated in a meeting with US President Biden at the APEC summit in November 2023.
Chang observed that Xi’s statements could be seen as “talking himself and China into a war,” setting up political ‘markers’ that could escalate into conflict. Wuthnow, on the other hand, believes Xi has become more cautious after observing Russia’s costly invasion of Ukraine and its domestic repercussions.
Risk of a third world war
Chang warns that the current global landscape, marked by widespread conflict, resembles the prelude to World War II. He argues that separate wars today could merge into a global conflict, with a Chinese invasion in East Asia potentially dragging Western countries into a larger war. “I think that Xi Jinping is taking two pages out of Mao’s Peasant Revolution playbook,” Chang said, suggesting that Xi views conflicts in regions like Ukraine, North Africa, and Israel as peripheries, with the United States being the central target.
What US thinks about Xi’s purge
There have been notable instances of corruption within China’s Rocket Force and its broader defense sector, such as missiles being erroneously filled with water instead of fuel, and the construction of missile silos with defective lids, compromising their launch capabilities, a Bloomberg report said. The pervasive corruption is now believed by US officials to decrease the likelihood of Xi Jinping and China undertaking significant military operations in the near future. This assessment, shared by sources to Bloomberg who preferred to remain anonymous while discussing intelligence matters, suggests that the corruption has significantly impacted China’s military readiness.eak of another global conflict in the 21st century.

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