28 August 2017
China has appointed a decorated war veteran to head its military nerve centre, suggesting President Xi Jinping’s preference to have battlefield-tested commanders in charge of military operations.
General Li Zuocheng, 63, who fought in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war and was awarded a first-class merit for his combat service, takes over from General Fang Fenghui as head of the Joint Staff Department.
Analysts said Li’s appointment underscored Beijing’s need for officers at the top with real combat experience to tackle geopolitical tension, and to counter the legacy of corruption left by the last administration’s top brass. But they also said the new job meant Li was unlikely to be promoted to be one of the vice-chairmen of the armed forces’ top Central Military Commission (CMC) at the five-yearly Communist Party congress this autumn.
James Char, a Chinese military analyst at the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said Xi had to strike a balance between generals of different backgrounds, including princelings and those who advanced by merit. “Xi cannot simply promote one group at the expense of the other, and has always tried to seek a balance in the make-up of the CMC.”
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 28/08/2017