At the beginning of 2017, the People’s Liberation Army underwent big personnel changes that surprised outside observers. First, the Chinese Navy commanders of all the three major fleets have been replaced. Then, for the first time, the commander-in-chief of the combat region was promoted from the Navy. This series of personnel changes sends two signals: First, China’s southern combat region, that is, the South China Sea, will become the main strategic focus. Second, one of the objectives of the 2017 military reform is to highlight three-dimensional warfare.
Among those promoted, Yuan Yubo and Shen Jinlong can be named as the two most prominent “dark horses” in the current round of adjustments in the Chinese army.
The commander of the Navy’s North Sea Fleet, Yuan Yubo, was promoted to the commander position of Southern Combat Region, becoming the first Navy officer being promoted to the position of a combat region commander.
The deputy commander of Southern Combat Region and commander of the South China Sea Fleet, Admiral Shen Jinlong, will replace the Central Military Commission member Wu Shengli to serve as Naval Commander. Shen Jinlong has been in the deputy position of the military district for only two years. He is also the first fleet commander to be promoted all the way to the Navy commander position.
The two have a common characteristic: the Southern Combat Region. Some observers expressed that the Southern Combat Region mainly encompasses the security of South China Sea.
Source: Duowei News, January 23, 2017