Amid graft probe, China's President Xi promotes Rocket Force commander

Amid graft probe, China's President Xi promotes Rocket Force commander

Promotion to full-rank general of ex-Navy commander comes amid probe against former Rocket Force chief

By Riyaz ul Khaliq and Alperen Aktas

ISTANBUL (AA) — China on Monday promoted a commander and a political commissar of its military's Rocket Force to the rank of general, the highest echelon for officers in active service, state media reported.

Commander Wang Houbin and political commissar Xu Xisheng's promotion comes amid reports of corruption investigations into the force's former commander, Li Yuchao, his deputy Liu Guangbin, and his deputy's predecessor Zhang Zhenzhong.

Wang is former deputy commander of Chinese Navy and will succeed as Li as the Rocket Force's new commander.

The Rocket Force is responsible for assuring the safety of China's strategic nuclear missiles and deployment of nuclear warheads to specific locations under the instructions of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

Xu was moved from the Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army's (PLA) Air Force to the new assignment.

President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the CMC, presented certificates of order to Wang and Xu.

Li was the third Rocket Force commander since its establishment in 2015, and was promoted to China's 205-member Communist Party Central Committee last October.

The trio is believed to have been taken away by investigators after the probe began following the retirement of the Rocket Force's first commander and later Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in March this year.

Previously, China's anti-graft body sentenced to prison two prominent military figures — Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou — both vice chairmen of the CMC.

The removals and promotions come as Xi has emphasized the importance of the military's anti-corruption measures and modernization efforts.

Xi has also doubled down on cementing political control over the Chinese armed forces.

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