BEIJING: On Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted three senior People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers, including the commander of the Western Theatre Command (WTC), which is in charge of guarding the contentious border with India. The promotion came as the week-long ruling party’s national congress came to an end.
The change came when Xi was re-elected for a third term as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), breaking with previous conventions that limited the position to two terms. It denotes that he will also serve as CMC’s (Central Military Commission) chairman for an additional five years. In addition, He Weidong, Wang Haijiang, and Xu Qiling received promotions from Xi.
He was the WTC army commander from July 2016 to December 2019, and he is now the vice-chairman of the CMC. He is 65 years old. Between June and August of 2017, he was in charge during the Doklam standoff.
Wang, the WTC’s current leader, was elected to the CPC Central Committee, which has 205 members and is one of the most important decision-making organisations.
The WTC, which oversees the length of the contested border between China and India that stretches from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, is the largest military command under the PLA.
The Eastern Theatre Command (ETC), which oversees military activities including Taiwan, has been under He Weidong’s direction since 2019. He shares the CMC’s vice-chairman position with Zhang Youxia.
Li Shangfu, Liu Zhenli, Miao Hua, and Zhang Shengmin are the other four CMC members. He Weidong was elevated to vice-chairmanship despite never having previously served on the influential CMC, demonstrating Xi’s confidence in him. When the conflict in the Galwan Valley occurred in June 2020, Wang oversaw the Tibet military district, which is under the control of the WTC. Wang had previously travelled to India in 2016 as part of military exercises held in Pune.