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Beijing carries out sweeping military shuffle to keep 'top soldiers' out of politics ahead of leade

Washington , Wed, 24 Oct 2012 ANI

Washington, Oct. 24 (ANI): China has reportedly begun a sweeping shuffle of its military top brass that could advance the status of its air force and navy, as well as determine the political powers of the country's future leader, Xi Jinping, over the next two years, according to experts.

With two weeks remaining before a Communist Party leadership change, a spokesman for China's Defense Ministry confirmed that Gen. Ma Xiaotian had already been appointed as the new air force chief, a post that is almost certain to give him one of the 12 seats on the Central Military Commission, which commands the armed forces.

The spokesman also confirmed that another official, Gen. Zhang Yang had been appointed as head of the armed forces' powerful General Political Department, another post that usually comes with a guaranteed seat on the Central Military Commission, known as the CMC, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"This suggests a focus on promoting competent, professional soldiers who'll continue the modernization of the military and who are willing to stay out of politics," said Taylor Fravel, a professor of political science and expert on China's military at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to military experts and party insiders, the appointments were the first official indications of who is likely to replace the seven or eight CMC members due to retire in a once-a-decade shuffle of the party leadership that kicks off at the 18th Congress, starting Nov. 8, the paper said. (ANI)

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