Chinese army press tells military to ignore rumours


THE OFFICIAL organ of the People’s Liberation Army has urged military personnel to ignore online gossip and prepare for the “ideological struggle” of the leadership transition later this year.

Rumour and innuendo linger in Beijing in the wake of the sacking last month of ambitious Communist Party cadre Bo Xilai. Although talk of a failed coup attempt has been dismissed, there are ongoing jitters within the leadership.

The Liberation Army Daily ran an editorial on the front page that did not mention a coup but did urge soldiers to “resolutely resist the incursion of all kinds of erroneous ideas, not be disturbed by noise, not be affected by rumours”.

The editorial emphasised the authority of President Hu Jintao, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission, which commands the PLA.

The paper has been warning troops not to “heed or believe all kinds of hearsay and dark stories”.

Mr Hu will start handing over the reins as general secretary later this year at the 18th Communist Party congress to his anointed successor Xi Jinping, in a once-in-a- decade transition that is a fraught time in Chinese political life.

Mr Hu will also hand over the presidency, probably next year, but it is unclear when Mr Xi will take over as head of the military.

Mr Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, held on to the chair of the Central Military Commission until it was clear his legacy was intact.

There is still little concrete information about what exactly happened in the Bo Xilai case. He was ousted in mid-March as party boss of Chongqing municipality after his protege and police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a US consulate, apparently trying to defect.

One of the most common rumours suggests a link between Mr Bo’s wife Gu Kailai and the mysterious death of an English businessman, Neil Heywood.