Xi Jinping promotes 10 Chinese military officials to full general in show of 'carrot and stick' approach

Xi's move aimed at warning cadres to stay clean and to reward those loyal to him, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 July, 2015, 11:50pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 August, 2015, 11:25am

China's President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, on Friday promoted 10 senior military officials to full general.

The promotions came on the eve of the anniversary of the world's largest army on Saturday, and just a day after Xinhua reported that former CMC vice-chairman Guo Boxiong had been expelled from the Communist Party and would face prosecution for alleged corruption.

The South China Morning Post reported in April that the top authorities had launched an investigation into Guo.

Experts said Xi was using the "carrot and stick" approach to warn all senior military officials to stay clean and loyal to the party. The promotions were to reward Xi's loyal leaders as well as to send a message to grass-roots officers that he was determined to turn the army into a modern force.

All but one of the 10 generals promoted are younger than Xi, who is 63. This meant they had good chances for further promotion. The rising stars pundits are closely watching include the navy's political commissar Miao Hua, 60; Jinan Military Command chief Zhao Zongqi, 60; and Beijing Military Command chief Song Puxuan, 60.

The oldest of the 10 is General Zhang Shibo, 63, incumbent president of the National Defence University.

The CMC yesterday also revealed that two major generals were being punished. The PLA Daily reported that Zhang Daixin, deputy commander of the Heilongjiang provincial military area, had received a 10-year jail term for graft, and Wang Xin, former political commissar of the armed police's traffic command, was being investigated for "serious disciplinary violations".

A retired senior colonel, who requested anonymity, said the moves highlighted Xi's determination to clean up the military and that he would be fair to those who were loyal to him.

"The promotions and punishments are aimed at telling the army and the public that the PLA's image should not be tarnished even though two former CMC vice-chairmen [Guo and Xu Caihou] had been investigated for graft," he said.

Former president Jiang Zemin was known for promoting nearly 80 officials to full general to win their political support during his 13-year term.

"The anti-corruption campaign is the only and most effective way for Xi to consolidate his power in the army," Hong Kong-based military observer Liang Guoliang said, adding that Guo and Xu's fall hinted that Xi's next step would be to carry out political reform in the army.

Liang said promoting Xi's own men in the military would be crucial to ensuring it remained loyal to him despite his sweeping corruption crackdown.

The 10 officials promoted to full general

Name Title Age
Wang Guanzhong        Deputy chief of the PLA General Staff Department 62
Yin Fanglong  Deputy political chief of the PLA General Political Department 62
Miao Hua  Political commissar of the PLA Navy 60
Zhang Shibo President of the National Defence University 63
Song Puxuan Chief of Beijing Military Command 61
Liu Yuejun Chief of Lanzhou Military Command 60
Zhao Zongqi Chief of Jinan Military Command 60
Zheng Weiping Political commissar of Chengdu Military Command 60
Li Zuocheng Chief of Chengdu Military Command 61
Wang Ning Chief of the Armed Police Force 60