Xi Jinping

Latest PLA promotions show Xi Jinping is bent on overhaul, analysts say

President seen as serious about overhaul of military leadership, wanting to move on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 July, 2014, 5:53am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2014, 10:26am

The latest round of PLA promotions shows President Xi Jinping is moving ahead with overhaul of the army's leadership, analysts say.

Xi, who chairs the Central Military Commission (CMC), promoted four lieutenant generals to the rank of general on Friday.

They were the two top chiefs of the Shenyang military area command - commander Wang Jiaocheng and political commissar Chu Yimin - deputy chief of the PLA general staff Qi Jianguo , and the political commissar of the Guangzhou military area command, Wei Liang

All four have backgrounds in the Nanjing military area command, which oversees security for southern and southeastern cities, and the Taiwan Strait.

Wang, Qi and Wei started their military careers in the command, while Chu spent one year working in its political department in 2006.

Generals from the southeast now make up 18 of the People's Liberation Army's total of 34. Eleven come from the northwest and the remaining five from inland provinces. Previously, officers from the northwest dominated the top ranks.

"It's a common practice for top leaders to promote the talent they know well. The new promotions show Xi is following what his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao did," said a retired senior colonel based in Beijing, who requested anonymity.

"Xi worked in Fujian , Zhejiang and Shanghai for more than two decades, which all fall under the Nanjing military command."

It was the third round of promotions since Xi became CMC chairman in November 2012.

He so far has promoted 11 senior officials to the rank of general. All are under 62 years old, which suggests they could be further elevated before reaching retirement at 68.

"The latest promotion also showed Xi is using a 'carrot and stick' approach amid the ongoing anti-graft campaign in the army as a bid to boost its morale," said Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong.

"Many of the generals were promoted during the time of disgraced former CMC vice-chairman Xu Caihou . But Xi has ignored this and is trying to ensure they are his own men."

Another Beijing-based retired senior colonel said the attendance of all 10 military officers on the CMC at Friday's ceremony was a public signal they would not be dragged into Xu's case.

"Most of the generals came up in the Nanjing military command, which offers opportunities because of its strategic importance. Nanjing oversees the Taiwan Strait, and trains senior officials on how to deal with military challenges," he said.