The promotion of Li Zuocheng as the new military chief of staff demonstrates China's determination to improve the military's combat capability, experts said on Sunday.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, Li Zuocheng has been promoted to the post of chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), replacing Fang Fenghui.
The ministry didn't directly announce Li Zuocheng's promotion but said in a news report that he attended the Quadrilateral Counter Terrorism Coordination forum with Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in Tajikistan in his new capacity on Saturday afternoon.
"Li's promotion showcases President Xi Jinping's resolve to put a younger officer with more combat experience in the leading position of the military," Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The 63-year-old veteran participated in the 1979 China-Vietnam War, and led the army in the battlefield for nearly a month despite being wounded. The Central Military Commission later honored him as a "war hero."
He was named as PLA Army Commander in 2015.
Experts noted that Li Zuocheng's promotion is only the beginning of an adjustment in top military posts and demonstrates the military's commitment to become a competent and powerful force that is always ready to fight.
The ministry didn't reveal which position Fang is transferred to.
"More military officials with similar background as Li Zuocheng are expected to be promoted to important positions," Li Jie said.
"The military has been undergoing huge changes in terms of equipment and training through reform. Personnel changes together with refined weapons and army's combat capability will further ensure that our forces can defend our territories and attack relentlessly when war comes," said Xu Guangyu, a retired rear admiral and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
China has put much effort in improving weaponry quality rather than quantity. Likewise, the army will have a qualified military leader to guide it, Xu said.
Xu also emphasized that training is the most essential method to advance the army's combat skills. "China's military should regularly attend combat exercises with live ammunition and actively join peacekeeping missions. Zhurihe, China's biggest military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, will play a bigger role in training the army," he said.
President Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, ordered PLA troops during the military parade, held in July, to uphold its combat effectiveness and modernize the national defense and armed forces.