Two days after promoting six senior PLA officials to full general, President Xi Jinping yesterday elevated another 10, including the two senior officials in charge of ideology at the army's Hong Kong garrison.
Yue Shixin, the garrison's political commissar, was promoted to lieutenant general on Friday, while the director of its political department, Zhang Zhimeng, was elevated to major general, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.
Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the promotion of Yue and Zhang implied Xi "might be worried about the political situation of Hong Kong".
Wang Xiaojun, commander of the Hong Kong garrison, was promoted to lieutenant general three months before his Hong Kong appointment in October last year.
Xi, who is the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), also promoted eight other officers belonging to the Guangzhou military command to the rank of major general.
The generals are the third batch of senior PLA officers Xi has elevated since he became chief of the military late last year.
Xi made Wei Fenghe, commander of the Second Artillery Corps, a full general in November, just eight days after he succeeded Hu Jintao as head of the CMC.
He promoted another six officers to full general on the eve of the 86th anniversary of the army's founding on August 1, including Xu Fenlin , chief of the Guangzhou command.
Wong said promoting so many generals from a single geographical command was rare, and the past three rounds suggested Xi was seeking to foster allies and consolidate his grip on the military.
"Guangdong was once the power base of Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun . I think he wants to use his father's connections to win support in the Guangzhou military region to help him consolidate his power," Wong said. Growing tensions in the South China Sea might also be pushing Xi to pay more attention to the region, he said.
A former PLA senior colonel based in Shanghai, who requested anonymity, said promoting major generals and lieutenant generals was the first step for the new CMC chairman to establish his own working team.