Free of graft and technically skilled: the qualities Xi seeks in new PLA generals

The elevation of nearly two dozens officers suggests President Xi Jinping wants a military leadership free of graft and technically skilled, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 10:02am

The latest round of promotions in the People's Liberation Army suggests President Xi Jinping is seeking to groom a new generation of military leaders who are better trained and free of corruption, analysts say.

In the past week, Xi has promoted nearly two dozen officers to the rank of lieutenant general. They are relatively young, with several having trained with the Russian military, according to the People's Liberation Army Daily and other official sources.

A few of the officers gained combat experience during the border war with Vietnam in the late 1970s.

The latest promotions were announced yesterday - two officers with the provincial area command of Sichuan and two from Tibet's.

We hope the promotion system will be made more fair
Retired senior colonel, who requested anonymity

The commander for Tibet, Xu Yong, and his colleague, political commissar Diao Guoxin, gained experience in the border conflict with Vietnam in Yunnan .

At age 55, Xu is one of the younger officers to be elevated. He was the first PLA major general to lead a relief force to Wenchuan following the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan in 2008, killing 87,000 people.

Also promoted was the PLA Navy Deputy Commander Ding Yi, the leader of a team that tested the Xian JH-7 home-made fighter bomber in the 1990s.

Xi, who heads the PLA as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, also made promotions in the military command areas of Lanzhou and Guangzhou, as well as in the northern and eastern fleets.

All of the officers came up through the ranks or hailed from elite battle force units, capable of multi-mission operations spanning different branches.

"The new promotions indicate Xi is going to shift the army's promotions to a normal system. All buying and selling of ranks will be strictly prohibited," said Li Jie, a Beijing-based retired senior colonel.

The military's image has been deeply tarnished by allegations that a former vice-chairman of the CMC, Xu Caihou, accepted bribes in exchange for promotions. He is being court-martialled, as is a former logistics deputy, Gu Junshan .

"It's also a good sign that almost all the new lieutenants general are under 60, meaning they could possibly be promoted further as the next generation of leaders in the army before reaching the retirement age for deputy commanders at 63," Li said.

At least three of the promoted officers trained in Russia for multi-mission operations after the two sides resumed military exchanges in 1996.

The new emphasis on quality promotions showed Xi was focusing on practical talent, said a retired senior colonel based in Shanghai, who requested anonymity.

"We hope the promotion system will be made more fair and clean," he said.

In the past, especially during the era of former president Jiang Zemin, promotions were often due to personal connections officers had with the leadership.