Central Asia expert to head PLA intelligence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2012, 12:00am


A highly-educated expert in Russian, eastern European and Central Asian affairs has been named the head of China's military intelligence, state media reported.

Major General Chen Youyi's first job in his new capacity as the People's Liberation Army's intelligence chief was accompanying General Ma Xiaotian, the PLA's deputy chief of general staff, in a meeting with visiting United States Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy early last month, Xinhua reported.

Chen, 58, studied international politics, gaining a masters degree at National Defence University followed by a doctorate at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of East European, Russian and Central Asian Studies in 1995.

He was promoted to major general in July 2010, when he was the deputy head of military intelligence.

Terence Yeung, an expert in eastern Europe and Central Asia at Hong Kong Baptist University, said Chen's familiarity with security and anti-terrorism issues in Central Asia, next to restive Xinjiang, could be one reason for his promotion.

A retired PLA major general, who refused to be named, said yesterday that despite Chen's specialisation in Russian, eastern European and Central Asian affairs, he could also handle relations with Western countries with ease. 'Xiong Guangkai - a former chief of military intelligence - worked as a military diplomat in Germany for years, despite the fact that he studied English,' he said, adding that promoting well-educated officers to leading posts in the PLA had become a trend.

Chen succeeds Major General Yang Hui, 49, one of the youngest and brightest rising stars in the PLA, who became chief of staff of the Nanjing military region in the summer.

Chen's family background is unknown. Previous leading military intelligence figures have almost all been descendants of Communist Party revolutionary veterans. Prominent princelings have included former military intelligence chief General Chen Xiaogong, the son of former ambassador to Japan Chen Chu; and former deputy chief of military intelligence General Ji Shengde, the son of Ji Pengfei , the former head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Meanwhile, Major General Lu Fuen, former chief of staff of the Second Artillery Corps (the strategic missile forces) and Major General Wang Jun, the former armaments department head of the Jinan military region, were promoted to be the deputy commanders of those forces late last month.

The PLA will see power reshuffles, including restructuring of its top decision-making body, the Central Military Commission (CMC), at the Communist Party's Congress this autumn. However, President Hu Jintao is likely to stay on as CMC chairman - the country's military chief - when he hands over the position of party general secretary to his heir apparent, Vice-President Xi Jinping .


The number of troops in the People's Liberation Army