Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping promotes senior officers to top team of generals ahead of reforms

Promotions of six senior officers to rank of full general indicate president is consolidating his grip on military, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 8:37am

The chiefs of the Guangzhou and Nanjing military area commands were promoted to full generals yesterday, making them the two highest ranking commanders among China's seven military regions.

Military experts said the promotions that preceded today's 86th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army indicated President Xi Jinping was continuing to consolidate his grip over the military .

Cai Yingting, 59, chief of the Nanjing military region, and Xu Fenlin , commander of the Guangzhou Military Region, were awarded their ranks by Xi in his capacity as chairman of the PLA's Central Military Commission (CMC) at its head office in Beijing yesterday, the online edition of PLA Daily reported.

Cai and Xu were among six senior PLA officers promoted to full generals yesterday. The others were Wu Changde , deputy chief of the PLA General Political Department; Wang Hongyao, political commissar of the General Armament Department; Sun Sijing , political commissar of the Academy of Military Sciences; and Liu Fulian , political commissar of the Beijing Military Area Command.

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

Xi promoted his first full general Wei Fenghe , commander of the Second Artillery Corps on November 23, 2013, just eight days after he succeeded Hu Jintao as CMC chairman.

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

"The promotion took place on the eve of the PLA's founding anniversary, highlighting the importance of these six generals, who will help Xi implement reforms in the army," Wong said.

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

In December last year, Xi met Xu in Guangzhou just a month after he was appointed head of the party and the military. Overseas media dubbed Xi's trip a "southern tour" in the tradition of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's 1992 visit to Guangdong to show his determination to carry out reforms.

Cai is currently the youngest general on the mainland. He was born in Fujian, where Xi spent more than 17 years. As a soldier familiar with Taiwan affairs, he was recruited by former CMC vice-chairman Zhang Wannian and worked as his secretary when during the second Taiwan Strait crisis in the 1990s.

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