CPC needs to maintain absolute control over PLA: top official

Xu Caihou, Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, regarded as the most powerful military official of China said the "unhealthy ways and customs" in the military must be corrected.

"Efforts to improve political work should be made towards ensuring the CPC's absolute leadership over the army, as well as maintaining social stability and creating a favourable environment for China's reforms and development," Xu said.

"More work should be done to improve the military members' ideological standards and their style of working" state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying at a meeting of military officials.

His comments came as the Communist Party of China (CPC) is gearing up to celebrate its 90th anniversary, and is facing challenges like the alienation of minorities, increasing social stratification and inequality, widespread corruption, pervasive unemployment, rising crime, and rural unrest.

PLA, unlike other militaries has a unique status as it operates directly under the control of the CPC leadership while Chine continues to be a one-party state.

The Central Military Commission (CMC), which controls the largest standing military of the world is headed by President Hu Jintao, who is also the General Secretary of CPC.

Comments by Xu, suggesting the need for reform in the functioning of the military, were seen by analysts here as a call for the PLA to gear up to deal with internal issues emanating from conflicts in Tibet and Xinjiang provinces, which witnessed riots in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

The CPC which has brought out a new five-year plan this year to alter the exported-oriented economic growth model of the country to a more consumption-based one, is also foreseeing economic slowdown this year which in turn could lead to domestic unrest.

Analysts say that CPC is concerned that the rising income disparities sparked by economic reforms may lead to social unrest.

Xu noted that the period of 2011-2015 is crucial for China's national defence and military capacity development.

PLA which is a fast expanding force, increased its defence budget by 7.5 per cent to 532.115 billion yuan (USD 77 billion) in 2010 and continues to be second largest spender on defence, next only US. Its defence expenditure is twice higher than India.

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