Xi Jinping

Veteran general promoted to head Beijing Garrison as Xi Jinping consolidates military control

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 11:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 11:02am

Pan Liangshi, a veteran military commander with expertise in anti-terror manoeuvres, has been promoted as the new commander of the strategically important Beijing Garrison, state media reported.

Major General Pan Liangshi, 57, previously the commander of 39th Group Army, spoke at the Beijing Garrison’s Communist Party committee meeting in his new capacity on Tuesday, reported the official Beijing Daily and Beijing TV news.

Pan’s promotion was the latest among a raft of military personnel reshuffles at the top ranks as president Xi Jinping, who also serves as chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, seeks to consolidate his grip of the armed forces.

Pan’s predecessor, Lieutenant Zheng Chuanfu, was promoted to a deputy commander of the Beijing Military Region, one of the seven military regions in mainland China, which controls the Beijing Garrison.

Xu Linping, the commander of the 38th Group Amy Commander, an elite army unit under Beijing Military Region, also appears to have got a promotion as he was seen on Gansu Satellite TV to attend an army promotion ceremony in his new capacity as a deputy commander of the Lanzhou Military Region last week.

Pan, 56, who is also an alternative member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, last month oversaw a large-scale military drill near the North Korea border as the Commander of the 39th Group Army, amid signs of political instability in the wake of the shocking execution of Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korea's paramount leader Kim Jong-un.

Beijing Garrison, which is under the dual leadership of Beijing Military Region and the civilian Beijing municipal authorities, plays a vital role in safeguarding the Chinese capital from military attacks or social unrest.

The capital city’s political symbol, the Tiananmen Square, was the scene of what the authorities called a terror attack in October when a four-wheel drive vehicle ploughed through a group of pedestrians, crashed into a stone bridge and caught fire, killing five people and injuring dozens.

Chinese authorities quickly identified the driver and passengers of the vehicle as from the ethnic minority group of Uighur, and said the attack was an act of terrorism.

A radical Islamist group, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), has claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of future attacks in the Chinese capital.