The Chinese army, after watching its role in local civilian administration shrink steadily in the 1970s, has made a comeback since the death of Mao Tse-tung, an analysis of recent provincial Communist Party appointments shows.
Soldiers were appointed to provincial party committees in great numbers in the late 1960s to end the disruptions of the Cultural Revolution. They held about 58 per cent of all provincial party secretary posts in 1971.
Mao, alarmed by an apparent military coup attempt in late 1971, then moved to break up military influence in local affairs and rebuild the civilian party apparatus. By the time of his death Sept. 9, only about 30 per cent of provincial party secretaries were professional soldiers.
Since Hua Kuo-feng's elevation, with army backing, to Mao's post as party chairman, this downward trend in appointments has reversed. Since mid-October almost 30 military men have been appointed to provincial leadership posts while only 10 have lost such posts - a net gain of 20 posts and the first such upswing in a least seven years.
The survey seems to confirm the suspicion of analysts here that Hua and his military backers have used the army just as Mao once did, to lend stability to faction-torn civilian administrations in the provinces. The increased military involvement on the local level, however, is still not nearly as great as occurred at the end of the last decade - when nearly every province lost veteran civilian officials through premature forced retirements.
New military appointments in recent months have been particularly noticeable in provinces where a since-discredited Peking faction led by Mao's widow, Chiang Ching, had its firmest support.
In January, five military officers appeared for the first time as members of the provincial party committee in southwest Szechwan Province, where the new pro-Hua leadership had complaint of an "all-round civil war" wage by agents of the Chiang Ching faction before Mao's death.
New military appointments have also been revealed in Fukien, Yunnan and Kiangsi, where a recent rally revealed extraordinarily severe measures being taken against those who caused disruption both before and after Mao's death.
According to a provincial radio broadcast monitored here, the comander of the Kingsi military district, Hsin Chun-chieh, told the June 6 rally, "We must certainly kill a very small number of the most vicious enemies against whom there is irrefutable evidence and without the kiling of whom it is impossible to soothe the people's wrath. Only in this way can the enemies' arrogance be deflated and the people's morale be boosted."
Although travelers in China have reported seeing wall-poster announcements of executions in the past few months, this was the first known instance of capital punishment's being spoken of directly in an official broadcast.
Hsih said, "We must resolutely suppress active counterrevolutionaries" who attack Chairman Mao, the late Premier Chou En-lai, Chairman Hua and the party Central Committee he heads, as "people who beat, smash and loot. We must exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat over thieves, robbers, murderers, arsonists, gangs of thugs and all kinds of bad elements who seriously sabotage public order."
The rally was told that "four ringleaders" of the Chiang faction in Kiangsi had been arrested and "dealt with according to law." It was not clear if they, or the non-political criminals, were to be executed.
A June 8 broadcast from Hupei Province also provided evidence of lingering problems in cleaning out party underlings influenced by Chiang and her disgraced colleagues.
"Some leaders who said or did wrong things while under the influence of the Gang of Four [what Peking calls the Chiang faction] have not, even today, corrected their attitude. They are not willing to spontaneously conduct self-criticism or to launch the masses to expose and criticize.
"Disunity exists in some leadership groups. They cannot get together and are unable to lead the movement. There are even certain leaders who resist the movement and still clamp down the lid and suppress the masses."
As in the past, soldiers on provincial committees are expected to lend a firm hand in a campaign that other wise seems to be operating at cross purposes. While the official media exhort localities to criticize Chiang's associates and clean up their ranks, they also warn against too many political meetings that take workers away from their machines and peasants away from their fields.