China Replaces Rocket Force Generals In Surprise Military Shake-Up: Report
China announced the appointment of two new chiefs for its People's Liberation Army Rocket Force. The Force, in charge of the country's formidable nuclear and ballistic missiles, has seen Wang Houbin take over as commander, and Xu Xisheng as political commissar. This unexpected shake-up has raised questions regarding the inner dynamics of the military unit.
Interestingly, there has been no information regarding the former commander, Li Yuchao, who held the position for only a short tenure from the beginning of 2022. Similarly, prior commissar Xu Zhongbo's whereabouts have not been disclosed. Experts believe it's uncommon to witness such a swift double replacement within the Rocket Force, particularly with military personalities from outside branches.
The leadership changes follow several weeks of speculation due to Li's notable absence from public view, further amplified by the lack of confirmation regarding his current position within China's political structure.
The reorganization comes at a pivotal time for the Rocket Force, with the unit overseeing a broad range of missile programmes - from nuclear-tipped weapons to shorter-range missiles employed in intimidation strategies towards self-governing Taiwan.
Observers note that these sudden personnel shifts, especially if part of a larger inquiry into the force, may reflect potential concerns surrounding Xi's leadership and raise skepticism about the force's ability to successfully carry out its mission.
This development coincides with recent evidence of China expanding its nuclear force, as depicted in satellite imagery showing construction of numerous intercontinental ballistic missile silos in Chinese deserts.
The US Defence Department anticipates a significant increase in the number of nuclear warheads within Beijing's arsenal over the next decade.