A reshuffle at the top of the People's Liberation Army has seen all major positions, with the exception of PLA Navy commander, filled with new appointees, the Ministry of National Defence said yesterday.
A ministry spokesman confirmed yesterday that Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe , formerly deputy chief of the army's general staff, had been promoted to commander of the Second Artillery Corps, the PLA's strategic missile force. The promotion means he is likely to become a member of the Central Military Commission, the military's top decision-making body, after the Communist Party's national congress next month.
The ministry also confirmed that Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo , 60, the former commander of the PLA's Hong Kong garrison, had replaced General Fang Fenghui as commander of the Beijing military command. Fang has been promoted to chief of general staff.
Lieutenant General Wang Xiaojun , 60, former deputy commander of the Shenyang military command, had been made Hong Kong garrison commander, the official said, while Lieutenant General Cai Yingting , 58, a former deputy chief of general staff, was now commander of the Nanjing military command.
The Hong Kong garrison information office confirmed that Wang had arrived in Hong Kong, saying the lieutenant general had been introduced to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying by Zhang yesterday.
However, the ministry declined to say whether Vice Admiral Ding Yiping had been promoted to head the navy. Ding, the navy's 61-year-old deputy commander, has been one of two officers tipped by overseas media as a contender for navy commander. The other is deputy chief of general staff Admiral Sun Jianguo , but a ministry announcement on Thursday showed no change in Sun's title.
The ministry announced new leaders of its four headquarters - the General Staff, General Political Department, General Logistics Department and General Armaments Department - on Thursday.
Ding, as the son of the late Ding Qiusheng , a revolutionary veteran, is regarded as a princeling. He was seen as a rising star in early 2002 when he was commander of the North Sea Fleet, but he was demoted one rank to navy vice-chief of staff after a submarine training accident in the Yellow Sea that claimed 70 lives.
He has been back in the limelight recently, leading the PLA Navy in joint drills with the Russian navy in the East China Sea in April.
Domestic and overseas military websites have speculated that incumbent PLA Navy commander Admiral Wu Shengli , 67, will remain at the helm for at least another year.