External Affairs

Xi Jinping Appoints New Army Commander in Reshuffle

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Peace Forum held in Beijing July 7, 2012. Credit:Reuters

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Peace Forum held in Beijing July 7, 2012. Credit:Reuters

Beijing: China has appointed a new army commander in a reshuffle of top posts ahead of next month’s congress of the ruling Communist Party, state media said on Friday.

Han Weiguo replaces Li Zuocheng, state-run newspapers said, following Li’s promotion as thenew chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army in August.

Han was the commanding office in charge of a military parade in Inner Mongolia in July overseen by President Xi Jinping to mark 90 years since the founding of the People’s LiberationArmy.

He had previously served as head of the central theatre command, a military district that includes Beijing and a large swathe of central China.

Han’s predecessor Li is one of the few senior military officers with combat experience, having fought Vietnam in a brief border war in 1979.

It was not clear what had happened to Fang Fenghui, the chief of the Joint Staff Department before Li’s appointment.

At a monthly news briefing on Thursday, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang declined to comment on Fang, who turns 67 next year, usually the age at which Chinese officials retire.

The reshuffle comes as Xi oversees an ambitious military modernisation programme, adding new aircraft carriers and developing stealth fighters and taking a more assertive stance in the disputed East and South China Seas.

(Reuters)