BEIJING, August 14 (ChinaMil) – China's Central Military Commission (CMC) held a general promotion ceremony in Beijing on July 11, 2014. Four senior military officers were promoted to the rank of general, the top rank at the current time. Now in the Chinese armed forces, there are 34 generals in service.
The four promoted officers are: Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Qi Jianguo, Commander of the PLA Shenyang Military Area Command (MAC) Wang Jiaocheng, Political Commissar of the PLA Shenyang MAC Chu Yimin and Political Commissar of the PLA Guangzhou MAC Wei Liang.
Apart from 8 general who were born in 1940s (post-40s), the other 26 generals were all born in 1950s (post-50s), including the four newly promoted ones.
Q: Why is so much attention paid to the post-50s generals?
A: In the military, post-50s generals are in their prime, since it takes a long time to be promoted as the General (or the Admiral).
Generally speaking, there are seven ranks from the Second Lieutenant (or the Ensign) to the Senior Colonel (or the Senior Captain, or the Brigade General, the Commodore in foreign armed forces), a process that takes 24 years as promotion is carried out once every four years, not counting in advance promotions.
The promotion from the Senior Colonel (or the Senior Captain) to the Major General (or the Rear Admiral), however, has no time restriction.
The time it takes to ascend from the Major General (or the Rear Admiral) to the General (or the Admiral) is more uncertain, which usually takes 10-15 years (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter).
For instance, among the generals granted the title of the Major General (or the Rear Admiral) in 1988, some were promoted as the General (or the Admiral) after only 6 years while others weren’t promoted until 18 years later.
Statistics show that it usually takes 20 years to ascend from the Senior Colonel (or the Senior Captain) to the General (or the Admiral). This means that if a young man becomes a second lieutenant (or an ensign) at the age 20, he, if there is no advance promotion, has to serve in the military for 44 years to have the chance of becoming a general (or an admiral) at the age of 64.
At present, all post-50s generals in China were born in 1950-1954 and are at the age of 60-64, truly a "young group".
Q: Is the General (or the Admiral) currently the highest military rank in China?
A: Yes, the General (or the Admiral) is the highest military rank for officers in service of the Chinese armed forces.
There are different types of General for different services, namely the Army General, the Navy Admiral and the Air Force General.
The vice chairman and members of China's CMC, the PLA Chief of General Staff and the Director of the PLA General Political Department (GPD) are usually granted the titles of General.
Meanwhile, the Army General is also the main ranks for the Deputy Chief of General Staff, Deputy Director of the PLA GPD, Director and Political Commissar of the PLA General Logistics Department (GLD) and the General Armaments Department (GAD), and Commanders and Political Commissars of 7 major MACs. There are altogether 24 PLA army generals in service now.
The Admiral is usually only granted to the Commander and Political Commissar of the PLA Navy (PLAN). There are 3 PLAN admirals in service now.
The Air Force General is usually only granted to the Commander and Political Commissar of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF). There are 5 PLAAF generals in service now.
Presidents and Political Commissars of the PLA National Defense University (NDU) and the PLA Academy of Military Science (AMS) can also be granted general. For them, the General (or the Admiral) rank isn’t limited by services. Generals or admirals can both fulfill these positions.
Q: What requirements must be met to be promoted as generals?
A: Generals can be "selected and promoted" from MAC-level leaders.
Therefore, the deputy chief of the general staff, deputy director of the GPD, main leaders in the GLD, the GAD, the PLAN, the PLAAF, the Second Artillery Force (SAF) and the People's Armed Police Force (APF) that are not CMC members, commanders and political commissars of 7 major MACs, and presidents and political commissars of the NDU and the AMS, all have the chances to be promoted as generals.
Of course, they usually have to have been MAC-level leaders for 2 full years and lieutenant general for 4 full years.
Besides, all members of the CMC are promoted as general because of their rise of position. Members of the CMC include the vice chairman, defense minister, chief of general staff of the General Staff Headquarters, directors of the GPD, the GLD and the GAD, and commanders of the PLAN, the PLAAF and the SAF. If a lieutenant general becomes a CMC member, he will be promoted as general.
Q: Which kind of officer is most likely to be promoted as general?
A: Chief military and political leaders with real war experience and that have served across major MACs, services and arms, general headquarters and departments.
Most generals have the experience in commanding basic campaign army corps, which generally refers to the Group Army in China.
Commander of the Group Army is a key position.
Apart from a few leaders not originating from the military or engaged in scientific research and technology, most of the 152 generals promoted by the PLA since 1988 started as soldiers and have been the main leaders at various levels ranging from squad, platoon, company, battalion, regiment to division.
Q: Is general a permanent and lifelong rank? What benefits are available for generals?
A: For military men, rank is an incentive. The military rank system of the PLA is permanent.
According to regulations, military rank is a lifelong honorary title for military officers, which cannot be deprived unless an officer is convicted by the court. If officers make mistakes, demotion of military rank can be a kind of punishment.
Generally speaking, the salary of the PLA officers consists of basic pay, allowance based on the years of service, rank-based allowance, position-based allowance, location-based allowance, and various other benefits and allowances. Therefore, the actual salary varies from general to general.
When generals are retired, they are no longer entitled to position-based allowance and other benefits and allowances granted by their former unit, but their military rank will remain unchanged, and they can attend major military activities and festivals in general (admiral) uniform.
The standard of treatment for retired generals will change, such as lower security level and dismissal of working secretary, but the living secretary and other privileges will remain.