China's major military reshuffle brings in younger officers

China's major military reshuffle brings in younger officers
China's Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers march at the Ngong Shuen Chau Barracks in Hong Kong on July 1, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

The latest round of appointments in a major military reshuffle has brought in younger officers, many of who mare in charge of political work, up to the level of deputy military command.

The reshuffle involved at least 16 officers who were almost all born between 1955 and 1959, with at least three born after 1960, Beijing Youth Daily quoted insiders as saying on Monday.

One of those three, Liu Zhenli, 51, the former commander of the 38th Army, became the new chief of staff of China's Armed Police Force and the youngest officer at his command level, according to available information, the newspaper said.

The high-level changes included the army, navy, air force and military academies. Around 70 per cent of the officers involved are in charge of political work, the newspaper reported.

The report came after the Central Military Commission promoted 10 senior military and armed police officers to general, the highest rank for officers in active service.

The promotions were announced on Friday, the eve of the 88th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. PLA navy Political Commissar Miao Hua, born in 1955, became the youngest of 38 generals in service in China.

These changes also came in parallel with the military's anti-graft campaign, which has so far removed 40 senior officers, as well as China's increased efforts to modernize its forces. Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, said the reshuffle reflected the military's continuing efforts to develop a younger force with a stronger educational background. It would contribute to the military's reform, he added.

President Xi Jinping, who is chairman of the Central Military Commission, has said that military reform should be guided by the objective of building a strong army and should ensure the Party's absolute leadership over the military.

Xi also heads a leading group pushing deepening reform of national defence and the military. The reshuffle showed that the military is politically stable after a series of high-profile scandals, and the changes of the officers in charge of political work would further strengthen such stability, Li added.

Two former vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, have been expelled from the Party. Guo's case has been decided to transfer to judicial organs and Xu died of cancer in March.

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