BEIJING, Jan. 22 (ChinaMil) -- The three PLA naval fleets all had new commanders in the beginning of 2017.
Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong, former commander of the South China Sea Fleet, was promoted commander of the PLA Navy and his former position was filled by Vice Admiral Wang Hai, former deputy navy commander.
Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, former commander of the North China Sea Fleet, was promoted commander of the Southern Theater Command and his former position was filled by Rear Admiral Zhang Wendan, former deputy chief of staff of the Southern Theater Command.
Vice Admiral Su Zhiqian, former commander of the East China Sea Fleet, was promoted deputy commander of the PLA Navy and his former position was filled by Wei Gang, former deputy commander and chief of staff of the Southern Theater Command. The new fleet commanders have all taken office.
The change of commanders of the three navy fleets came all of a sudden. When a naval taskforce comprising the North China Sea Fleet's guided-missile frigates Yancheng and Daqing and comprehensive supply ship Taihu returned to a military port in Qingdao on January 13 after a successful visit to New Zealand, the US and Canada, the news release said Deputy Navy Commander Tian Zhong welcomed the taskforce on behalf of Admiral Wu Shengli, member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) and commander of the PLA Navy, and the Navy's Political Commissar Miao Hua. The article also said the North China Sea Fleet's Commander Yuan Yubai attended the welcome ceremony too.
On the news titled "Chinese aircraft carrier accomplishes training and testing mission" aired by CCTV on January 13, Wang Hai was onboard the aircraft carrier Liaoning. On the afternoon of January 10, Su Zhiqian, then commander of the East China Sea Fleet, conferred medals to political cadres who performed superbly in a military contest.
The personnel reshuffle in the Navy showed a distinct feature that theater-level leaders are appointed across regions. According to public information, Wei Gang has worked as commander of the North China Sea Fleet's Lvshun naval base, chief of staff and deputy commander of the fleet, and head of the Navy's logistics department successively. He will be the new commander of the East China Sea Fleet.
Zhang Wendan has served in the South China Sea Fleet for a long time, filling such positions as deputy chief of staff, chief of staff and deputy commander. He will be transferred from the Southern Theater Command to be commander of the North China Sea Fleet.
What appeared a little special is Wang Hai, who used to serve in the South China Sea Fleet for a long time and is coming back there from the Navy headquarters this time. His return demonstrated the strategic position of South China Sea Fleet in the current strategic situation and that its commander should be someone with rich experience.
According to Wang's resume, during his service in the South China Sea Fleet, he served as captain of guided-missile destroyer Chongqing, head of a destroyer flotilla, assistant chief of the staff of the Navy, and deputy commander of South China Sea Fleet's aviation troops.
He was also the first commander of the aircraft carrier battle group. Analyst said that his resume just needs the position of fleet commander, which will create more room for the future career development of this born-in-1960 new commander.
This reshuffle also reflected that high-level leaders are transferred at shorter intervals. According to public report, Wei Gang has changed positions four times since 2015. In May 2015, official media revealed that he was appointed deputy commander of the North China Sea Fleet. In July, he became head of the logistics department of the Navy. Wei was deputy commander and chief of staff of the Southern Theater Command in 2016 and became commander of the East Sea Fleet in January 2017.
Public information shows that Zhang Wendan also changed positions four times since 2014, serving respectively as chief of staff and deputy commander of the South China Sea Fleet, deputy chief of staff of Southern Theater Command and now commander of the North China Sea Fleet. After Wang Hai stepped down from the position as first commander of the aircraft carrier battle group, he was appointed deputy Navy Commander in July 2015 and transferred again in early 2017.