Recently, Hu Jintao replaced Jiang Zemin as chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC). That makes him China's supreme leader. What does the change signify?
Jiang relinquished control of the PLA three years before due retirement. The reason given was frail health. But observers say he looks healthy. Has Jiang anointed Hu as his successor because he has accepted Jiang's agenda? Or has Jiang surrendered?
According to The Independent in London, after Jiang's ouster China has initiated moves to facilitate the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet. This is a policy departure.
The Hindu and Hindustan Times in edit-page articles indicated that Musharraf remained silent as Manmohan Singh conveyed harsh truths during their private conversation in New York. If these reports are correct, they could indicate that Musharraf personally cannot count on Chinese support as he used to under Jiang. Earlier, Pakistani generals visiting Beijing even broke protocol to confer with Jiang.
It seems Hu has reasons to be wary of Jiang. In dictatorships, power struggles sometimes ignite foreign adventures to discredit and embarrass opponents. If such is the case, inner-party tension in China may be over, the inner-party struggle might have begun. If Jiang decides to hit back, he can do so through a foreign adventure instigated by the pla, where he may still wield influence.
North Korea's vice-foreign minister Choe Su Hon stunned the UN by claiming that North Korea, to deter America, had turned plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear rods into nuclear weapons. He accused America of trying to eliminate North Korea. In fact, America has leaned backward to accommodate North Korea despite its nuclear violations. Is North Korea spoiling for a fight? If so, at who's bidding?
In an unprecedented move, China has sought security for its embassy in Delhi against suspected Uighur separatists infiltrating from Pakistan. Uighur terrorist links with the pla-backed Pakistan army are known. Does the Chinese government fear sabotage by the PLA? On September 30, the national day, Hu urged the PLA to prepare for a military struggle to reunite China. These were Jiang's exact words to the PLA spoken on March 12, 2002. In dealing with the PLA, must Hu still follow Jiang?
Before this column appears, Pakistan's General Mohammed Aziz will have retired. He was closest to Jiang. He staged the coup against Nawaz Sharif. Will Jiang and Aziz fade or retaliate when the US attempts to capture Osama? A close watch on sensitive spots worldwide where PLA has had links is advisable. Including in India's Northeast and Pakistan's Northwest.
(Puri can be reached at email@example.com)