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    Will Hu Jintao Retain Military Reign

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    NTDTelevision

    by NTDTelevision

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    Will he, or won't he? That's the question China observers are asking about whether current Party chief Hu Jintao will stay on as the head of the military after he officially retires from his role as General Secretary of the Communist Party.

    Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post cited an inside source on Monday, claiming Hu will give up his reign over the military. If the report is true, Hu would end the practice of his two predecessors, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zeming, who continued to cling on to military command after stepping down as Party leader.

    NTD's senior China analyst Li Tianxiao says whether Hu will make a clean exit depends on the outcome of the power struggle between him and his political rivals—namely Jiang Zemin and his faction. Li believes Hu may remain as the Chief of the Central Military Commission, in order to fend off Jiang.

    [Li Tianxiao, NTD Senior China Analyst]
    "Why can't Hu Jintao give up the position easily? The key is to keep Jiang at bay, and to stop Hu himself from being targeted. This is critical. If Hu just gives up military control, Bo Xilai and Jiang's faction could use their military clout to take him down. It's a matter of life and death for Hu.

    Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin continued to hold on to military power for two years after he retired. Although Hu was the head of the regime for a decade, his military connections remained weak until recently.

    Li says there could be another reason why Hu would maintain his control over the military after handing over power to Xi Jinping.

    [Li Tianxiao, NTD Senior China Analyst]
    "Hu can help Xi with the military; after all, Xi is still fresh faced. Once Xi Jinping takes over as leader, and if he wants to further cleanse out Jiang Zemin's followers, he would need military control. Hu Jintao has now managed to establish his military connections, so it's important for him to stay as the head of the military."

    The Communist Party's Central Military Commission oversees the 2.3 million strong People's Liberation Army. Xi is currently its Vice Chairman.

    Communist leaders have long attached importance to their ability to influence the military. Retired Party officials can still have significant sway based on their military connections.

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