Beijing, Sept. 25 (Reuters): Chinese leader Hu Jintao has promoted two senior officers, his first move since assuming the new role of military chief and one that is likely to help consolidate his support in the armed forces.
In a ceremony today, Hu promoted navy commander Zhang Dingfa to admiral from vice-admiral, and commander of the second artillery corps Jing Zhiyuan to general from lieutenant-general, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Zhang and Jing had been tipped for promotion either later this year or next year, military sources had said.
Hu issued the promotion order on September 20, just a day after he was appointed head of the Central Military Commission (CMC) when ageing leader Jiang Zemin retired at an annual meeting of the ruling Communist Party's elite, Xinhua said.
During the party plenum, the 198-member Central Committee also expanded the number of seats in the Central Military Commission by three to include Zhang, Jing and Qiao Qingchen, commander of the air force. Qiao is already a full general.
The second artillery is China's ballistic missile force.
Prior to his appointment as CMC chairman, Hu was vice-chairman of the commission for five years. In the years after Jiang took over as CMC chairman from paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1989, he promoted 79 officers to full general, building a strong base of support within the armed forces.