Chinese President Xi Jinping has moved out General Zhao Zongqi, the People’s Liberation Army’s powerful Western Theatre Commander, amidst the military standoff in eastern Ladakh and replaced him with General Zhang Xudong, who has never served along the Indian border. Gen Zhao, who had also engineered the 2017 Doklam conflict with India, has been seen as a hardliner against India and Bhutan, hence the change of guard in the leadership has sparked hope in New Delhi.Also Read - Delta Globally Dominant Covid Strain, Now Spread To 185 Countries: WHO
Xi has promoted four senior Chinese military and armed police officers. Among them was Gen. Zhang, Commander of the Western Theatre Command of the PLA, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Friday. Also Read - African Swine Fever Grips Tripura as 28000 Pigs Dead in 11 Districts Since March
The other officers who were promoted include Guo Puxiao, Political Commissar of the Logistic Support Department of the CMC; Li Wei, Political Commissar of the PLA Strategic Support Force and Wang Chunning, Commander. Also Read - US President Joe Biden to Host PM Narendra Modi for Bilateral Dialogue on September 24 at White House
The new appointments at the top of the PLA Western Command comes in the midst of the standoff between the Chinese and Indian military in eastern Ladakh since May.
Not much is known about Gen. Zhang, especially his association with Western Theatre Command, as he reportedly served mostly in other theatre commands of the PLA.
He succeeds 65-year-old Gen. Zhao Zongqi who headed the Western Theatre Command during the 2017 Doklam standoff where the Indian Army stood up against the PLA’s plan of laying a road close to the Indian border in an area claimed by Bhutan.
The Ladakh standoff also happened under the watch of Gen Zhao. It began in May after China dispatched thousands of troops which were mobilised for military exercises to eastern Ladakh borders, sparking a new round of tensions with India.
India and China have held several rounds of talks at the diplomatic and military-level to resolve the prolonged standoff.
At the latest round of foreign ministry-level talks on December 18, the two sides said that they have agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the LAC. The meeting also decided to hold the next round of military dialogue at an early date.