Two of China’s princeling generals retire as part of Xi Jinping’s leadership reshuffle

Veterans' departure shows Xi Jinping is in full control of PLA personnel, says analyst

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 January, 2015, 7:26pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 11:45am

Two princeling generals from the People’s Liberation Army have left their positions as part of an ongoing leadership reshuffle.

Generals Zhang Haiyang and Liu Xiaojiang retired as the political commissars of the PLA Second Artillery Corps and navy respectively.

Zhang is the son of former Central Military Commission deputy chairman Zhang Zhen, while Liu is former party general secretary Hu Yaobang’s son-in-law and the son of Red Army veteran Liu Haibin.

Both generals turned 65 – the army’s maximum retirement age – late last year, Beijing-based military analyst Li Jie said.

“The retirement of Zhang Haiyang and Liu Xiaojiang shows that all leaders, regardless of their backgrounds, have to abide by the maximum retirement age. None can be exempted,” Li said.

The analyst said the move was also related to the ongoing anti-corruption campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping, who is also CMC chairman.

“It’s one of the moves to implement deeper reform in the army to prevent corruption and to transform the PLA into a modern army,” he said.

Shanghai-based military observer Ni Lexiong said the “forced retirement” that covered even the army’s princelings showed that Xi was in full control of PLA’s personnel promotion.

Zhang’s retirement was first confirmed by Guizhou Daily when it referred to him as “former political commissar of the Second Artillery Corps” last week.

Zhang is one of few Chinese generals with war experience. He took part in China’s counterattacks against Vietnam in 1979 and 1986. His father, the only living founding general of the People’s Republic of China, celebrated his 100th birthday last year.

Zhang was succeeded by Lieutenant General Wang Jiasheng, who was deputy commissar of the PLA’s logistics department, last month, according to reports on China’s military websites. Liu was succeeded by Lieutenant General Miao Hua, who was political commissar of Lanzhou Military Command.

The Second Artillery Corps, China’s strategic missile troop that was founded in 1966, is the PLA’s youngest fighting force. It is responsible for all of the state’s missile projects.

The navy, which was once the PLA’s weakest force, has been strengthened since the early 2000s after Beijing started building up its maritime power and developing aircraft carriers to protect its oil interests at sea.