‘‘Senior officers feel entitled to raise their voices because they believe that the party’s corruption has elevated the relative standing of the PLA,’’ said Washington-based military strategist and historian Edward Luttwak, who knows Luo personally.
In the 2009 book ‘‘China Dream,’’ senior colonel and National Defense University professor Liu Mingfu called for China to upend U.S. dominance in international relations, saying China had a stark choice between becoming the pre-eminent power or one that has ‘‘been left behind and eliminated.’’
Those sentiments were echoed in the introduction to a 2010 scholarly work by Gen. Liu Yuan, whose father, Liu Shaoqi, was a Chinese head of state in the 1950s and 1960s. The younger Liu called for China to cast aside restraint and praised warfare as a foundation of modern culture.
‘‘Those involved in warfare are the most glorious, wonderful, and mournful,’’ wrote Liu, a full general in the PLA who serves as a political commissar.
Requests to interview Luo and the three Lius, who are not related, were declined.
Many observers see a pronounced gap between the headline-grabbing views and bombastic statements of these kinds of officers — most often based in academia — and those of unit commanders who are much more cognizant of the PLA’s limitations, as well as top military leaders considered staunchly loyal to the party.
‘‘I would emphasize that, overall, the party leadership wields ultimate decision-making power on key national security issues,’’ said Sarah McDowall, a China analyst with IHS Janes in Britain.
The PLA also has shown the world a friendlier side in recent years, cooperating in anti-pirate patrols off Africa’s coast, joining in UN peacekeeping operations and sending a hospital ship to the Caribbean. However, some of that may be as much about testing the ability to operate far afield as about diplomacy.
Xi, the incoming leader, is seen as representing a strain of firm, though not shrill, nationalism. His ties to the military are smoothed by his years in uniform as secretary to former Defense Minister Geng Biao from 1979-1982 — as well as his being the son of a leading communist guerrilla.
The military will continue to yield major sway through its outsized representation on major bodies. It will have 251 delegates at the national party congress opening Nov. 8, three times the number from China’s most populous province, Henan.
Its influence has ensured robust spending on such new assets as the prototype J-20 stealth fighter.
McDowall of HIS Jane’s said the PLA’s influence has been growing in recent years ‘‘owing to the increasing resources allocated to it’’ and that it has a major, behind-the-scenes say in this year’s political leadership transition.
‘‘High-ranking military men may feel they have slack in the leash and can speak boldly’’ when the country’s political establishment is in flux, said Roy, the East-West Center senior fellow. ‘‘For many in the Chinese military, these outspoken guys are patriotic heroes.’’