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China's leader trusts only his wife? “A delicate and dangerous situation”

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The importance of China's first lady, Peng Liyuan, is growing. Analysts say she no longer only has direct influence over Chinese leader Xi Jinping, but also in strengthening control over China's two-million-strong army. “Peng can be said to be the only officer Xi can truly trust. This is a delicate and dangerous situation,” Nikkei Asia said in an analysis.

An analysis of the growing role of the Chinese leader's wife was published Thursday by Katsuji Nakazawa of the renowned Japanese news service Nikkei Asia. “Army purges put Xi Jinping's singer-wife in the spotlight,” reads the title of the analysis, which examines the significance of the nearly 62-year-old Peng Liyuan. “Speculation is growing about whether Peng Liyuan is helping Xi (Jinping) maintain control over the Chinese military,” the journalist points out.

China's First Lady

China’s first lady has never been a person who has been in the shadows. For decades, she has been a military singer, adored by millions of Chinese, and known personally in the highest circles of power. When she married Xi Jinping, then a mid-level official in the Chinese Communist Party, in the 1980s, she brought him recognition and significantly facilitated his further ascent up the ladder.

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In this situation, when in 2012 Xi Jinping included in China highest authority, it was known that the first lady of China would have an unprecedented role. Peng Liyuan combined enormous stage popularity with real influence in military circles, where she even received the rank of major general for her stage achievements. Therefore, it was no great surprise when in subsequent years her role grew to such an extent that she began to appear, among others, in the ranking of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine.

Peng LiyuanGetty Images

Purge in the Chinese army

However, according to Nikkei Asia, Peng Liyuan's role has recently grown even more. All because of Xi Jinping's problems in enforcing unconditional loyalty from the Chinese army, which is being served by his 10-year-long purge in the Chinese army.

In this context, the recent expulsion of two former Chinese defense ministers, Wei Fenghe and Li Shangfu. Both dismissals took place in mysterious circumstances and were all the more surprising because both generals received ministerial portfolios at Xi's initiative. Dismissing and throwing out his own nominees from the party must have been a difficult decision for Xi Jinping, caused by a complete loss of confidence in them.

SEE ALSO: Sudden Nuclear Command Change: Reports of New ‘Purge’ in China

The resignations “show his (Xi Jinping’s) unease after a decade of trying to control the military,” said Katsuji Nakazawa. “He is still concerned about the army’s lack of loyalty to him,” and is “likely to be increasingly reliant on his longtime adviser, his wife, Peng Liyuan.”

The author points out that in this situation, Peng Liyuan not only accompanies Xi Jinping to the most important meetings and events – which could be explained by her position as the first lady – but is also increasingly placed in the center of attention by the Chinese government media. The growth of Peng Liyuan's presence in the media is visible to such an extent that a term “first lady diplomacy” has been coined, which is unprecedented in China, emphasizing her involvement and importance in the international arena.

China's leader only trusts his wife?

Meanwhile, in these circumstances, reports have also begun to emerge since May about the growing importance of the first lady in exercising political control over the Chinese army. According to unconfirmed reports, Peng has become a member of the military examination and evaluation commission, within which she would have a direct influence on the filling of military positions.

“Some recent personnel changes are consistent with this claim,” Nikkei Asia reports, citing new Defense Minister Dong Jun as an example. Dong is the first Chinese defense minister to come from the navy, rather than China's dominant ground forces. The appointment was met with resistance from ground forces commanders, but Dong is believed to be “among Peng's close friends, as both are from Shandong province.”

“There is speculation that as Xi now forces changes in key military positions, he is consulting his wife on who he can fully trust in terms of loyalty,” Katsuji Nakazawa points out.

“You could even say that Peng is the only officer Xi can really trust. It's a delicate and dangerous situation,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Media: Chinese army secrets allegedly reached the US. Beijing suspects treason

Main image source: Getty Images

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