China Changes Head Of Military Command Responsible For Border With India For The Third Time In Nine Months

China Changes Head Of Military Command Responsible For Border With India For The Third Time In Nine MonthsChinese President Xi Jinping with the promoted generals.
Snapshot
  • General Wang replaces General Xu Qilin, who served for only two months in the post.

On Monday (6 September), Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted a new General to head the Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army, responsible for the entire frontier with India.

At a ceremony held at the Bayi Building in Beijing, President Xi “presented certificates of order at a ceremony to promote five senior military officers to the rank of general," a report in Xinhua said.

Among those promoted is Western Theater Commander Wang Haijiang, who is now the fourth officer to lead the command since December 2020.

General Wang replaces General Xu Qilin, who served for only two months in the post. He had been serving as the head of the ground forces of the Western Theater Command, being appointed to the post in 2020, possibly weeks ahead of the clashes in the Galwan River Valley in June last year.

Xu had replaced General Zhang Xudong, who had served for only seven months. Zhang had taken over from General Zhao Zongqi after his retirement in December 2020.

In the past, General Wang, the new chief of the Western Theater Command, has served as Commander of the Tibet military region and deputy commander of the southern Xinjiang military region, the two military regions involved in the standoff along the Line of Actual Control.

The fate of General Xu, who has been replaced by General Wang, remains unknown, as do the reasons behind the frequent changes in the leadership of the Western Theater Command since December 2020.

When General Xu was promoted (to head the command) in July this year along with three others, reports said they "have risen in rank in less than two years after their previous promotion."

"PLA tradition is for theater command chiefs to be promoted only after staying in their previous post for more than two years," the South China Morning Post said in a report, citing a Taiwan-based expert.

Back then, experts said President Xi would be looking to reshuffle the leadership of the Central Military Commission, the highest military leading body of the Chinese Communist Party, adding that more promotions and retirements are expected soon.

“Both the CMC vice-chairmen....are over 70 — the maximum retirement age — next year, meaning the four CMC members, or those generals who retired from the five theater commands and service forces, will become hot candidates,” Hong Kong-based military expert Liang Guoliang was quoted in the South China Morning Post report as saying.

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