Chinese army promotes new political commissar at Hong Kong garrison

Major General Cai Yongzhong will take up senior post which was left vacant for almost six months

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 8:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 9:48am

A senior role overseeing ideological work at the Chinese army’s Hong Kong garrison has been filled, after almost half a year vacant.

Major General Cai Yongzhong has been promoted to political commissar at the garrison. He replaces Lieutenant General Yue Shixin, who was transferred to serve as deputy political commissar at the Southern Theatre Command late last year, according to a statement by the garrison on Tuesday.

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The promotion was ordered by President Xi Jinping – who is also the head of the all-powerful Central Military Commission – and announced by the Southern Theatre Command chief, Vice-Admiral Yuan Yubai, during his visit to the Hong Kong garrison.

Cai said that during his three years as the deputy political commissar at the garrison, he “deeply felt Hong Kong’s important position and role in the nation’s security and its development strategy, and the strong vitality of the great policy of ‘one country two systems’”. The major general was referring to the model under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy from Beijing.

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He also pledged to protect the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests and safeguard Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, according to the statement.

Cai, 56, was appointed a member of the party’s central commission for discipline inspection in October. He is almost unknown to the general public in Hong Kong and his name appeared more often in media reports of community celebratory events or ceremonies as a guest of honour and representative from the garrison.

“Political commissar is a senior position in the army,” Hong Kong-based veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said. “He is as senior as the commander. A political commissar takes care of the ideological work in the army, while the garrison’s commander looks after more the military or combat side of the operation.”

One of the roles of the commissar is to serve as the public relations officer, but that does not mean it is a position to be taken lightly, said the Macau-based military analyst Antony Wong Dong.

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“A political commissar is in charge of building the political ideology, and sometimes his nod has to be secured even before the commander makes a decision,” he said.