Surprises as six appointed generals
The top two officers with the People's Armed Police (PAP), along with four senior political commissars of the People's Liberation Army, were promoted yesterday to the highest possible ranks they can obtain.
President Hu Jintao, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, conferred the promotion of Lieutenant General Wang Jianping, 59, commander of the PAP, and Lieutenant General Xu Yaoyuan, 60, political commissar of the PAP, to the rank of general.
The four PLA officers named full generals were Lieutenant General Liu Yazhou, 60, the political commissar of the National Defence University; Lieutenant General Du Jincai, 60, deputy head of the PLA's General Political Department; Lieutenant General Tian Xiusi, 62, political commissar of the Chengdu Military Command; and Lieutenant General Du Hengyan, 61, political commissar of the Jinan Military Command.
An order for the promotions was announced by the CMC vice-chairman, Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported.
Lieutenant General Liu Fulian, 60, political commissar of the Beijing Military Command, failed to be promoted, although he had long been tipped to be among those elevated.
Liu Fulian's exclusion from the list came as a surprise to many military watchers, after he took up the position of political commissar of the Beijing Military Command in December 2009, following his promotion to lieutenant general a year earlier, at the same time as Du Jincai.
Conventionally speaking, one should be a lieutenant general for at least four years and hold office in a position equivalent to commander or political commissar of a regional military command for no less than two years, before being shortlisted for promotion to full general.
In contrast to Liu Fulian, the PAP's Xu had been promoted to lieutenant general in July 2009, just three years ago, although he had been its political commissar since July 2010.
Aside from Liu Fulian, two others who failed to be promoted were Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe, 58, deputy chief of the general staff, and Lieutenant General Xu Fenlin, 59, commander of the Guangzhou Military Command, even though they had long been regarded as dark horses for promotion to full general.
A Beijing-based source said he was confident that Wei would be named a full general, but not until after his likely move to commander of the Second Artillery Force after the 18th Party Congress this autumn.
'General Wei's case is more or less akin to that of General Chang Wanquan, who was promoted to full general soon after being appointed head of General Armaments Department in late 2007,' the source said.
The youngest commander among his counterparts in the country's seven military regions, Xu Fenlin has been seen as a rising military star with the so-called northwest army, after serving in the northwestern Lanzhou Military Command for more than three decades and once being the commander of the PLA's renowned 47th Army Corp with the military region.
Sharing a similar military background, both General Guo Boxiong, a vice-chairman of the PLA's decision-making Central Military Commission, and General Chang are prominent figures in the 'northwest army'.
The passing up of Xu Fenlin in the latest promotions may be viewed as a result of the PLA's top brass seeking better balance among different military factions, given that the older Du Jincai had similarly served in the Lanzhou Military Command.
Meanwhile, there is also a new general with a so-called princelings background.
Liu Yazhou, the son-in-law of former president Li Xiannian, has been generally considered an outspoken and open-minded senior officer with the PLA.