General Zhang Xudong, a member of the Central Military Commission”s Strategic Planning Committee and former commander of the People’s Liberation Army Western Theater Command, died of an illness in Beijing on Oct 1, the military announced on Thursday. He was 58.
The military did not reveal details of Zhang’s illness, but said that he made many contributions to the PLA’s modernization.
A native of Hebei province, Zhang joined the PLA Ground Force in 1981 and rose through the ranks.
Previous reports by Chinese media revealed that Zhang had enjoyed a long career in the former PLA Shenyang Regional Command. He was promoted to the rank of major-general in 2012, and in 2014 was named commander of the former 39th Group Army.
Both the Shenyang Regional Command and the 39th Group Army have since been dismantled and merged with other units during a major military reform launched in 2015.
In 2017, Zhang was appointed commander of the PLA Central Theater Command’s ground force. He was promoted to lieutenant general the following year, becoming deputy head of the Central Theater Command at the same time.
Zhang was appointed commander of the Western Theater Command sometime before December 2020, becoming the second person to occupy this key role, after General Zhao Zongqi. That same month, he was promoted to the rank of general, the highest rank in today’s PLA.
Zhang did not stay in the post for long, and was replaced by Xu Qiling in July. Xu was in turn replaced by Wang Haijiang in September.
The appointments of both of Xu and Wang were made public at separate ceremonies, promoting them from lieutenant general to general.
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