As Lenin and the Bolsheviks realised after the Potemkin Mutiny in 1905, any communist revolution needs a military wing. This could be either its own force, or a process of winning over significant parts of the existing armed forces – or both.
In China, what became the People’s Liberation Army began with the Nanchang Uprising, on 1 August 1927. This was a response to the anti-communist attack by the Guomindang (after their first alliance). So yesterday marks 90 years since that first event, the foundation of the PLA.
Plenty of material in China celebrating the anniversary. The People’s Daily has a whole section devoted to it. Performances have been held, art-work produced, speeches given, and wechat is full of comments and pictures.
And Xi Jinping has also made a major speech (see also here), emphasising the the history of the PLA, its achievements, and continual reforms in a changing world. I must admit that I was taken with the following two observations:
The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions. We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory from the country at any time, in any form.
Emphasising the absolute leadership of the CPC over the PLA, Xi – as he is fond of doing – quoted Mao:
Our principle is the Party commands the guns, and we will never allow the guns to command the Party.