War hero Li Zuocheng appointed to top PLA post

Li Zuocheng, who was decorated for conduct in Sino-Vietnamese war, takes Chengdu command

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 3:50am

A decorated war hero from China's last major conflict has been given control of the PLA's Chengdu military command and is tipped to be promoted to the rank of full general this month.

Lieutenant General Li Zuocheng , 60, has replaced retiring General Li Shiming , 64, as commander of the People's Liberation Army's southwestern military region which covers Chongqing , Guizhou , Sichuan , Tibet and Yunnan , according to a website known for its military news.

Li Zuocheng, who had previously been the region's deputy commander, beat out other strong contenders for the post. His rivals included lieutenant generals Wang Ning , chief of staff of the Beijing regional command, and Qin Weijiang , deputy commander of the Nanjing military region and the son of a former defence minister.

The move was also reported by Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao, which also said Lieutenant General Song Puxuan , 59, deputy commander of the Nanjing military command, had been made president of National Defence University.

Li and Song - along with Lieutenant General Xu Fenlin , Guangzhou regional commander - are on the shortlist for promotion to full general before the People's Liberation Army celebrates its 86th anniversary on August 1, sources said.

Li received a first-class merit for leading a PLA company to victory during the month-long Sino-Vietnamese war in 1979 when he was 26. He suffered injuries to his right arm during the conflict.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Yang Jinshan , the commander of the PLA's Tibet garrison under the Chengdu military command, has been named Li's deputy.

Unusually, Yang, as one of 41 members of the PLA's Central Committee, is one of the few generals to enjoy a higher Communist Party ranking than his boss. Li is neither a member nor an alternate member of the Central Committee.

The vacancy left by Yang will be filled by Major General Xu Yong , the commander of the 13th Army based in Chongqing, which is also under the Chengdu command.