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PLA makes intensive HR adjustment again

( Source: Chinanews  )         2014-August-5 18:30

  By Xi Zhigang

  BEIJING, August 5 (ChinaMil) -- After adjusting high-ranking military officers in February this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently made intensive human resources (HR) adjustment again.

  The HR adjustment in the Lanzhou Military Area Command (MAC) on July 7, 2014 lifted the curtain on the routine promotion of general officers of the seven major PLA MACs and so on before the Army Day on August 1, 2014.

  As of the release of this news, the Shenyang MAC just announced its promotion of major generals, but the Beijing MAC hadn’t made any announcement yet.

  The PLA’s HR adjustment and promotion this time basically continues its last round but with slightly different background.

  Analysts pointed out that the Shenyang MAC is most special because it is in the period of rectification, while the Beijing MAC is of significant importance because of its mission of safeguarding the capital city, so the HR adjustment in these two MACs is very prudent.

  Promotion of generals breaks convention

  Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, Wang Jiaocheng and Chu Yimin, commander and political commissar respectively of the Shenyang MAC, and Wei Liang, political commissar of the Guangzhou MAC, were promoted generals on July 11, 2014. This is the 3rd promotion of generals since Xi Jinping became chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), during which 11 generals have been promoted, driving the total number of incumbent generals to 34 in China.

  What are worth noting are the “unconventional” points about this round of general promotion.

  In the past, newly promoted generals are usually members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and have been lieutenant general for 4 full years and MAC-level officer for 2 full years. However, while the 4 generals promoted this time have all been lieutenant general for 4 full years, only Chu Yimin has been a MAC-level officer for 2 full years. The other 3 have been MAC-level officers for less than 2 years.

  Coincidentally, Xi Jinping brought Xu Caihou, the former CMC vice chairman and the “big tiger” in the military, into the cage on June 30, 2014, and signed the promotion order for the 4 new generals at the same time.

  Military analysts regarded this as an unusual move, because making an exception of promoting generals who haven’t been MAC-level officer for 2 full years at a time when the “big tiger” was put into cage indicated that Xi Jinping intended to accelerate the military reform of the PLA.

  Look into the resumes of the 4 newly-promoted generals, the 62-year-old Qi Jianguo has served in the military for 44 years and participated in the Laoshan battle. As China hasn’t been in war for many years, he is one of the few military officers with real war experience.

  Qi Jianguo has been chief of staff of the 1st Group Army of the Nanjing MAC, commander of the 12th Group Army of the Nanjing MAC and director of the Operations Department of the General Staff Headquarters (GSH). He was promoted deputy chief of general staff in October 2012 and consequently became a MAC-level officer.

  Wang Jiaocheng, also 62 years old, has served in the military one year longer than Qi Jianguo, and has been deputy commander and commander of the 12th Group Army, deputy chief of staff and deputy commander of the Nanjing MAC successively. He succeeded Zhang Youxia, who was transferred to be director of the General Armaments Department (GAD) of the PLA, as the commander of the Shenyang MAC in October 2012, and consequently became a MAC-level officer.

  Chu Yimin, 61 years old, has also served in the military one year longer than Qi Jianguo. He has served in the Lanzhou MAC for a long time. He was designated director of the Political Department of the Xinjiang MAC and promoted major general in 2003, and had been political commissar of the 47th Group Army and director of the Political Department of the Nanjing MAC successively. He was promoted political commissar of the Shenyang MAC in December 2010 and became a MAC-level officer consequently.

  Wei Liang, also 61 years old, has the richest experiences among the 4 newly promoted generals. Wei has been a political officer in Nanjing, Jinan, Guangzhou MACs and the General Political Department (GPD) of the PLA as well as the Armed Police Force (APF). He had been director of the political department and deputy political commissar of the 12th Group Army under the Nanjing MAC, political commissar of the Jiangxi PMC, political commissar of the 26th Group Army under the Jinan MAC, director of the Political Department of the APF and assistant director of the GPD. Wei Liang succeeded Zhang Yang, who was transferred to be director of the GPD, as political commissar of the Guangzhou MAC in October 2012 and became a MAC-level officer consequently.

  It’s worth noting that the 4 newly promoted generals all started in the Nanjing MAC, have worked together at different times, and have been familiar partners with each other. According to statistics, among all the 34 incumbent PLA generals, Zhao Keshi, director of the General Logistics Department (GLD), Wu Changde, deputy director of the GPD, and Cai Yingting, commander of the Nanjing MAC, have all once served in the Nanjing MAC.

  In addition, Wang Ning, deputy chief of general staff (MAC-level) of the PLA, Miao Hua, newly promoted political commissar of the Lanzhou MAC (MAC-level), Liu Shenyang, deputy commander of the Jinan MAC (deputy-MAC-level), Wang Jian and Cheng Tongyi, deputy political commissars (deputy-MAC-level) of the Beijing MAC, and Han Weiguo, deputy commander (deputy-MAC-level) of the Beijing MAC, all started in the Nanjing MAC.

  Besides, Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the CMC, Liu Chengjun, president of the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), Wang Xiaolong, deputy political commissar of the PLA Air Force, and Zhao Yiliang, political commissar of the air force of the Shenyang MAC, all started in the No.8 Corps of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) garrisoning Fujian, and Wu Shengli, commander of the PLA Navy (PLAN), used to be commander of the Fujian Base under the PLAN. All of them originated in the southeastern theater of China.

  Based on these characteristics, observers concluded that the southeastern theater of China is rising with a strong momentum and PLA generals originating from the Nanjing MAC appear in large quantities.

  Overseas study and real war experiences valued

  The emphasis on capability as demonstrated in the new round of promotion indicated the great importance attached by Xi Jinping to practical capabilities of military officers.

  At least 3 of the newly promoted officers have received relevant training in Russia after China and Russia resumed military exchange in 1996, and some of them obtained real war experiences in the China-Vietnam border war at the end of 1970s. This fully demonstrates Xi Jinping’s style of promoting people “who can fight and win battles”.

  Xu Yong and Diao Guoxin, commander and political commissar respectively of the Tibet MC who were promoted lieutenant generals on July 15, both participated in the China-Vietnam border war.

  The 55-year-old Xu Yong is quite young among the newly promoted military officers this time. During the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan in 2008, which caused the death of 87,000 people, Xu Yong was the first PLA major general that led his troops to participate in the earthquake relief.

  Previously, deputy commander Chen Zhaohai, deputy political commissar Yang Yuwen and director of the Political Department Zhou Weimin of the Guangzhou MAC were promoted lieutenant generals, while 7 officers from the MAC were promoted major generals on July 13, 2014.

  Chen Zhaohai used to be deputy director and director of the Military Training and Arms Department under the GSH, and was one of the first-batch senior commanding officers to study in the General Staff College of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces. In a routine adjustment of senior officers soon afterwards, Chen Zhaohai was transferred from the GSH to be deputy commander of the Jinan MAC and became a deputy-MAC-level officer.

  Besides, Ding Yi, deputy commander of the PLAN and Wang Huayong, political commissar of the East China Sea Fleet, were both promoted from rear admiral to vice admiral. Ding Yi used to be commander of the test flight regiment of the "Flying Leopard" Jet in the 1990s. It’s easy to see that all officers promoted this time come from elite combat troops and can accomplish multiple military tasks across departments.

  Commander of the Tianjin Garrison Command and political commissar of the Chongqing Garrison Command are also adjusted. Chen Daiping, deputy political commissar of the GSH Military Training Department and secretary of the discipline inspection committee, was transferred to be political commissar of the Chongqing Garrison Command, a clear signal of Xi Jinping’s intention.

  Among the Provincial Military Commands (PMC), Xinjiang and Tibet are quite special, where the military and political leaders are all conferred the rank of lieutenant generals in this round of promotion. The PLA garrisons in Hong Kong and Macau also completed HR adjustment, with the appointment of the new commander of PLA Hong Kong Garrison quite unexpected. Major General Tan Benhong, former commander of the Hainan PMC, became the PLA garrison commander in this sensitive region, drawing close attention.

  The PLA is highlighting its tradition of valuing military exploits in real war and redressing the impaired PLA image affected by corruption. Someone from the military who wishes to remain anonymous said that Xi Jinping is committed to bringing into play the new-generation military leaders who are well trained and free from corruption.

  Among the services and arms, the PLA Air Force and the Second Artillery Force (SAF) haven’t made any announcement about HR adjustment and promotion yet. Military analysts said that the HR adjustment and promotion of all services and arms will be completed step by step before the end of this year.

  Adjustment of strategic direction suggested

  The southeastern theater (the Nanjing and Guangzhou MACs) have had the most intensive HR adjustment this time, which almost indicates strategic adjustment.

  China’s military deployments have always focused on northern China with the former Soviet Union as the key target of defense. Since the Community Party of China (CPC) came into power, the PLA Army has had overwhelming advantages over other services and arms with its extremely powerful forces.

  Even after 30-odd years of reform and opening up, during which the PLA Air Force, Navy and Second Artillery Force have risen rapidly, the Army’s voice in the military is indisputable. Therefore, the seven major MACs still focus on the Army, and it is very likely for senior officers in the Lanzhou, Beijing and Shenyang MACs to be vice chairman of the CMC.

  According to defense experts, this kind of military deployments focusing on the north and the Army forces is a historical and realistic requirement. Because of the serious tension between the two countries for more than 30 years since the 1950s, China was once faced with severe military threat from the former Soviet Union. As the Beijing, Shenyang and Lanzhou MACs carry the mission of safeguarding the capital city, military forces were inclined in their direction, which has resulted in the current imbalance.

  After the reform and opening up, China has experienced increasingly better relations with its strong northern neighbor, and the China-Russia relations even entered a “honeymoon period” recently, whereas military threats from the eastern and southern coast are aggravating quickly.

  As the probability of military conflicts over the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea issue is much higher today, it is absolutely necessary for China to create a defensive network and deterrent force with a powerful military presence, especially by strengthening the PLAN, the PLA Air Force and the Second Artillery Force. As a result, the Nanjing and Guangzhou MACs that mainly consist of naval forces have become more important.

  According to strategy researchers from the AMS, China’s future security threats will mainly come from the sea, so it should make proper adjustments in its military security strategy and the input in different services and arms.

  As a matter of fact, there are many signs of China’s strategic adjustments in this regard.

  After the National Conference of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Xu Qiliang, who originated from the PLA Air Force, became one of the two vice chairmen of the CMC. Xi Jinping frequently emphasized the military request to be able to fight and win battles. Naval trainings and combat drills have been carried out frequently. And special importance has been attached to the aircraft carrier development.

  The reason for these actions is the same for the recent intensive promotion and adjustment of military officers in the southeastern theater (Guangzhou and Nanjing MACs), which in a way reflects the overall strategic adjustment.

  However, the said anonymous person from the AMS also said that the change of PLA theaters and of the force distribution among various services and arms will be based on the national strategic adjustment rather than on individual or local considerations. The officers whose experiences in the Nanjing MAC are valued and who have promoted are of course outstanding, but it doesn’t mean the officers and men in other MACs are inferior in capability or experience. Everybody enjoys equal opportunities under the overall strategic requirement.


Editor :  Dong Zhaohui