Hawkish commander heads South Sea Fleet
A famously hawkish senior navy commander has been appointed as the political commissar of the South Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy.
Vice-Admiral Wang Dengping, previously the political commissar of the North Sea Fleet, will now oversee the fleet that patrols the disputed South China Sea waters.
His appointment follows Beijing's moves to step up its sovereignty claims in the region which is rich with oil and gas.
Beijing recently announced the establishment of Sansha city to administer three island chains, while China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) offered tenders to foreign partners for nine oil blocks in the South China Sea.
'Wang will help strengthen measures to stop other [countries] from claiming territorial rights over the disputed waters,' said Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong.
Antony Wong Dong, president of the Macau-based International Military Association agrees.
'The appointment is in line with Beijing's strategy to strengthen sovereignty claims,' he said.
In an interview with China National Radio in March, Wang said the PLA had the capability and the will to defend the nation's sovereignty.
'We, as navy officers, should not let our territory be diminished on our watch, and we should not let our lands be lost. We would be guilty to our countrymen if that happened,' Wang said.
In another interview with China News Service, Wang said he was frustrated with the theory that China posed a geopolitical threat to the world.
He said the national defence policy would not be changed even though China now had its first aircraft carrier.
'There is nothing special happening, but some mediocre people are making troubles,' he said.
Wang, 59, joined the PLA when he was 18. He has held various positions in the army.
In 2002, he took part in the PLA navy's first global diplomacy effort as a deputy commander. He visited 10 countries, including America and Russia, in 132 days.
That same year, he was promoted to rear admiral. Last year, he was promoted to vice-admiral.
In 2009, he succeeded Vice-Admiral Li Guang as the political commissar of the North Sea fleet.