On September 8, Xi Jinping suddenly promoted Wang Qiang to the rank of colonel general and assumed the new position of commander of the Northern military region, while the predecessor, Li Qiaoming, was fired despite not being old enough to retire.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, attended the promotion ceremony to the rank of colonel general for Wang Qiang, commander of the Northern military region at the Bayi building, Beijing, on ​​September 8.

According to public information, Wang Qiang was born in Rongxian County, Sichuan, in 1963. In July 2013, he held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force of Jinan Military Region. In January 2016, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Western military region and Chief of Staff of the Air Defense Force of the Western military region. In July 2018, he was promoted to Deputy Commander of the Western military region. In April 2020, he was concurrently appointed Commander of the Air Defense Force under the Western military region.

While Wang Qiang was promoted to colonel general, the now former commander of the Northern military region was fired. It is currently not clear what direction Li Qiaoming will take, he is four years away from retirement age.

After Xi Jinping came to power, he launched a large-scale anti-corruption campaign in the military, arresting a large number of corrupt anti-Xi faction generals including the former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and the current member of the Military Commission. He continued pushing a military reform for several years, strengthened the system of responsibilities of the Chairman of the Military Commission, and promoted many fledgling generals over the years.

An Epoch Times reporter has calculated that since taking over the military in late 2012, Xi Jinping has promoted 68 generals, more than the two previous leaders.

Caixin Media reported that on January 21 this year, Xi Jinping promoted seven generals including Liu Qingsong, political commissar of the Northern military region and new positions of these seven were also revealed for the first time.

However, during recent promotions and high-level changes in the military, there have been some strange situations. For example, the Western military region has changed the Commander 3 times, while the Central military region has done so twice in a short period of time.

Among them, on October 21, 2021, General Zhang Xudong, former Commander of the Western military region, passed away from illness at the age of 58. Zhang Xudong was only promoted to general in December 2020. On July 5, 2021, Xu Qiling, former military commander of the Western military region, was promoted to general and replaced Zhang Xudong. Then, Xu Qiling was said to have cancer. After two months as the commander, he returned to Beijing to serve as the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Central Military Commission.

Cai Xia, a former professor at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, published an article in the U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs on September 6. He explained that although Xi Jinping gradually promoted his people among the general population; the remarks of military generals fluctuated between personal loyalty to Xi Jinping and loyalty to the Central Military Commission. There are signs that anti-Xi among the military generals still exist. 

Cai Xia added an example. Around 2017, Colonel General Liu Yazhou, also known to be a son-in-law of a former president, wrote to Xi suggesting to change Xinjiang policy. Liu was warned not to criticize Xi’s policies. In 2021, Liu Yazhou was reported missing. Although the news that Liu had been detained in Beijing was not confirmed, it caused a stir in the military world. With this action, Xi warned other “princelings” and other military leaders.

In the early morning of the day Xi promoted Wang to Colonel General and commander of the Northern military region, residents recorded gunfire, explosions, and fighter jets supposed to be at Yuhong Military Airport in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. Yuhong belongs to the Northern millitary region where Wang Qiang has just been appointed.

Some netizens even suspect that this is not a military exercise but a real civil war: “It started in the early morning of September 7 at Yuhong airport, this is not an actual military exercise, but a civil war with live firearms.”

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