China’s Military Upheaval Under Xi Jinping Threatens Race to Compete with the US

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Xi Jinping’s removal of high-ranking military officials in China has sparked global debates on its impact on the country’s military strength and internal corruption.

Nine senior military commanders were ousted from their coveted positions last Friday, marking a dramatic turn in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which has been a defining feature of his term. 

This move targeted notable figures, including former commanders and vice commanders of the PLA Rocket Force, a Navy commander responsible for the South China Sea, a former Air Force chief, and four equipment overseers.

Experts view this purge as a significant indication of a systemic cleansing within the military. Andrew Scobell, a distinguished China expert at the United States Institute for Peace, highlighted the clear signs of a purge, suggesting that more changes might be on the horizon. 

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, echoed this sentiment, hinting at further forthcoming dismissals.

Weakening of China’s Military Capacity

china's-military-upheaval-under-xi-jinping-threatens-race-to-compete-with-the-us
Xi Jinping’s removal of high-ranking military officials in China has sparked global debates on its impact on the country’s military strength and internal corruption.

Although the Chinese government hasn’t officially disclosed the reasons behind these removals, analysts speculate that corruption allegations within the Rocket Force concerning equipment procurement might have prompted these actions.

Observers like Yun Sun, from the Stimson Center think tank, emphasize the immediate impact of the purge, suggesting it has weakened China’s military capacity. This development raises concerns about China’s ability to bridge the military gap with the United States. 

Despite its endeavors to expand its navy and establish overseas military bases, China continues to lag significantly behind the US in terms of military capabilities.

Retired US Navy Admiral James Stavridis, in a recent interview, underscored this point, asserting that China wouldn’t be prepared to engage in a conflict with the U.S. within the next decade. Stavridis emphasized the strength of US military alliances, which would bolster their position in the event of a confrontation with China.

The ramifications of Xi Jinping’s military purge extend beyond the internal restructuring of the PLA; they cast a shadow over China’s aspirations to rival the US militarily. 

Whether these changes will strengthen or further diminish China’s military prowess remains a subject of intense scrutiny and global concern.

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