Amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, China has named a new leader for its navy. At a ceremony in Beijing, which was attended by President Xi Jinping on Monday (25 December), Hu Zhongming was elevated to the position of general, as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The report didn't specify the future plans for Dong Jun, who took on the role of navy chief in 2021. A photo from Xinhua confirmed Dong's attendance at the ceremony.
The shift occurs as China asserts its dominance in the South China Sea, an area Beijing considers its territory, and in the Taiwan Strait. Recently, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed to his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo that the relationship between their nations is experiencing "serious difficulties" in the wake of maritime disputes.
Recently, the conflict has been centered around the Second Thomas Shoal, where ships from both countries have confronted each other due to the Philippines' efforts to restock a ship they had stranded there in 1999.
The events led to the reconfirmation of a treaty by American and Philippine officials, which mandates Washington's obligation to defend Manila in the event of an armed assault.
Since August 2022, the Chinese military has conducted two significant military exercises around Taiwan, triggered by President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting with high-ranking US lawmakers. Both drills saw the Chinese navy practicing blockades. Xi has made a commitment to eventually incorporate Taiwan under Beijing's authority, using force if required.
Previously, Hu held the position of chief of staff for the navy, and prior to that, he was a submarine captain. He was part of a notable mission in 2002 where a Chinese destroyer circumnavigated the globe over a period of four months.
Xinhua revealed that Wang Wenquan has been appointed as the new political commissar of the Southern Theater Command, a position responsible for supervising Chinese military operations in the South China Sea. Along with this appointment, Wang has also been promoted to the rank of general.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!