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Xi Jinping tightens grip on military

Publication Date : 02-08-2013


The chiefs of the Guangzhou and Nanjing military area commands have been promoted to full generals, making them the two highest ranking commanders among China's seven military regions, said a Hong Kong newspaper yesterday.

The promotions on Wednesday, which preceded yesterday's 86th anniversary of the founding of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), indicated China's President Xi Jinping was continuing to consolidate his grip over the military, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Six senior military officers were promoted to the rank of general.

Besides Commander of the Nanjing Military Area Command Cai Yingting and Commander of the Guangzhou Military Area Command Xu Fenlin, the other four are Deputy Chief of the PLA General Political Department Wu Changde, Political Commissar of the PLA General Armament Department Wang Hongyao, Political Commissar of the Academy of Military Sciences Sun Sijing and Political Commissar of the Beijing Military Area Command Liu Fulian.

General is the highest rank for officers in active service in China.

At a ceremony on Wednesday, Xi, in his capacity as chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), presented the officers with certificates of command, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The six generals are the second batch of senior PLA officers formally elevated by Xi since he became chief of the military last November.

The promotions showed Xi was anxious to build his own team of PLA leaders, with Gen Cai and Gen Xu being two rising stars who will become his key aides in the army, the SCMP cited Macau-based military commentator Antony Wong as saying.

Li Jie , a Beijing-based military expert, said the promotions also indicated that Xi paid close attention to both Guangzhou and Nanjing military commands, according to the SCMP.

Xi met Gen Xu in Guangzhou last December, just one month after he was appointed head of the party and the military.

Gen Cai, 59, is the youngest general on the mainland. As a soldier familiar with Taiwan affairs, he was recruited by former CMC vice-chairman Zhang Wannian and worked as his secretary during the second Taiwan Strait crisis in the 1990s, the SCMP said.

Gen Cai worked in the Nanjing Military region, which overseas the Taiwan Strait, for almost three decades.

Visiting professor David Tsui at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said: "Xi's moves to consolidate his grip over the armed forces have been quick, frequent and resolute."

Within months, Xi has managed to inspect major military regions. He also visited an air force base deep in the Gobi desert and navy bases on islands in the South China Sea, the SCMP said in a separate report yesterday.


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