Lieutenant General Wang Xiaojun, currently a deputy commander of the People Liberation Army's Shenyang Military Area Command, has become a frontrunner to succeed Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo as the next commander of the Hong Kong garrison.
Zhang, 60, will soon take over from General Fang Fenhui, who is tipped to be the PLA's Chief of General Staff in the near future, to become the commander of the Beijing Military Area Command, according to sources.
The moves are part of a new spate of military leadership reshuffles in the run-up to the Communist Party's 18th national congress, due to be held on November 8, according to a Beijing-based source familiar with military affairs.
After joining the army in 1970, Zhang, a native of Zhejiang , served in the Jinan Military Area Command, which oversees the provinces of Shandong and Henan , for nearly four decades and became the commander of the military region's 20th Army Corps before he was elevated to commander of the Hong Kong garrison in January 2008.
The void left by Zhang is likely to be filled by Wang, 60, who spent three decades in the Guangzhou Military Area Command before being appointed deputy commander of the Hong Kong garrison in September 1999.
During his 3½ years in Hong Kong, Wang, a native of Hebei , kept an extremely low profile and made very few appearances other than at a handful of public functions, including the joint civilian and military celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival in September 2000.
Senior positions with the Hong Kong garrison, which is under the leadership of the Guangzhou Military Area Command, have long and widely been regarded as a stepping stone for the advancement of military officers. All military officers, as well as rank-and-file soldiers, stationed in Hong Kong have been carefully selected to ensure their quality, Zhang told the South China Morning Post during an interview earlier this year.
Wang was promoted as the commander of Hainan's provincial military region in March 2004 and served in different positions with the Guangzhou Military Command before he was promoted to deputy commander of the northeastern Shenyang Military Command in 2010.
General Liu Zhenwu , the founding commander of the PLA's Hong Kong garrison, who served in the position from 1997 to 1999, was promoted to commander of Guangzhou Military Area Command in 2002. Liu retired as a deputy chief of general staff in 2009.