People's Liberation Navy - PLAN Commanders
Wu Shengli (2006-Present(as of July 2007)): Wu was born in Wuqiao, Hebei Province, in August 1945. As a senior officer, he served as chief of staff of the PLAN's Fujian Base, commandant of the Dalian Naval Vessel Academy, commander of the Fujian Base, deputy commander of the East Sea Fleet, and commander of the South Sea Fleet and concurrently deputy commander of the Guangzhou Military Region. In 2004, he was appointed as one of the deputy chiefs of the general staff. In August 2006, Wu replaced Zhang Dingfa as the PLAN commander.
Zhang Dingfa (2003-2006): Zhang was born in December 1943 in Shanghai and joined the PLAN in 1960. From 1960-1964, he was a cadet at a PLAN submarine academy. After graduating, he served as a submarine CO, zhidui deputy commander, assistant to the chief of staff of the NSF, and chief of staff of the Qingdao Base. He then successively became the chief of staff, deputy commander, and commander of the NSF. In November 2002, Zhang was assigned as the first naval officer to be the president of the PLA's Academy of Military Science (AMS). In June 2003, he replaced Shi Yunsheng as the PLAN commander. In September 2004, Zhang was selected as a concurrent member of the CMC, making him the first PLAN commander to hold this position. Zhang became seriously ill in January 2006 and was replaced in August 2006.
Shi Yunsheng (1996-2003): Shi was born in Liaoning Province in January 1940 and joined the PLA in 1956. In 1958, he graduated from an aviation preparatory school. He then attended the PLAAF's 7th Aviation School in Changchun, graduating in 1962. After graduating, he served as a Naval Aviation pilot, zhongdui commander, dadui commander, and deputy regiment commander. In 1976, he was appointed as the deputy commander of NSF Naval Aviation. In 1981, he became a Naval Aviation division commander. In 1983, he was appointed as the SSF Naval Aviation commander. In 1990, he became a deputy commander of Naval Aviation. In November 1992, he was assigned as a PLAN deputy commander and was promoted to commander in November 1996. Shi served as the commander until he was relieved of duty in June 2003 as a result of the death of the entire crew on a Ming submarine two months earlier.
Zhang Lianzhong (1988-1996): Zhang was born in June 1931 in Shandong Province and joined the PLA in 1947. During 1948, he participated in several campaigns against the Nationalists. Beginning in 1949, he served in several junior officer positions in the Third an infantry school in 1956, he served in several ground-force billets until he enrolled in a PLAN submarine school in August 1960. After graduating in 1965, he served in various billets, including a submarine CO, deputy zhidui commander, zhidui commander, NSF deputy chief of staff, Lushun Base commander, and PLAN deputy commander. He succeeded Liu Huaqing as commander of the PLAN in January 1988, serving in that post until November 1996. As a submariner, Zhang was the first PLAN commander to have served at sea.
Liu Huaqing (1982-1988): Liu was born in October 1916 in Hubei Province and joined the Red Army at age 14 in 1930. He participated in the Long March, where he established personal relations that would serve him well in the future. For the next 15 years, he served in political commissar positions with various Red Army and PLA units. His naval career began when he was appointed as the deputy political commissar of the 1st Naval College in 1952. From 1954-1958, he attended the Voroshilov Naval Academy in Leningrad, where he was influenced by the writings of Admiral Sergei Gorshkov. After returning to China in 1958, he served as first deputy-commander, chief of staff, and commander of the PLAN's Lushun base, and deputy commander of the NSF.
The second phase of his naval career began in 1961, when he was assigned as the president of the Ministry of National Defense's 7th Research Academy, which was established in 1965, Liu became a vice minister of the 6th Ministry of Machine Building (shipbuilding). The following year, he became a vice minister of the Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry of National Defense (COSTIND), which was responsible for guiding development of the military's weapon systems.
In 1970, he returned to the PLAN as a deputy chief of staff. It was during this time that he also broadened his influence by becoming a member of the Party leading group of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, assistant to Deng Xiaoping (who at the time was the PLA's chief of the general staff), and then deputy chief of the general staff. In August 1982, he was assigned as the third PLA Navy commander. This position also included being selected as a member of the CCP's 12th Central Committee. In November 1987, Liu moved from the navy to the final phase of his military career in the CMC, where he eventually became the senior vice chairman and one of the most powerful men in the PLA behind Deng, who was the CMC chairman.
In 1992, he also became a member of the 10th CCP Central Committee's Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, where he helped shape the future of the PLA as a whole.
Ye Fei (1980-1982): Ye was born in the Philippines and his family returned to China when he was four years old. He joined the Communist Youth League in 1928 and the CCP in 1932. During the 1930s and 1940s, Ye was involved in CCP activities in southeastern China and as a political commissar and commander of various Red Army units. In 1953, he held several concurrent positions, including the governor of Fujian Province, deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, and commander and political commissar of the Fujian Military District. At age 40, Ye Fei received the rank of general when ranks were first given to the PLA in 1955. In 1975, he became the People's Republic of China's (PRC's) Minister of Transportation.
In February 1979, Deng Xiaoping appointed Ye, who had never served in the PLAN, as the Navy's political commissar for one year. Deng then appointed him as the commander until August 1982. After leaving his position as PLAN commander, he served as the vice-chairman of the standing committee of the 6th and 7th National People's Congress (1983-1993).
Xiao Jinguang (1950-1979): Xiao was born in January 1903 in Hunan Province. At age 16, Xiao became involved in political activities and joined the Communist Party at age 17. He studied in Moscow from 1921-1924. In 1925, he served as a political officer during the Northern Expedition and was given the rank of lieutenant general. He went back to Moscow in 1927 and studied there until 1930. From then until 1949, he served in various Red Army and PLA command and political commissar positions. At the age of 46, Xiao Jinguang became the Navy's first commander. Technically, he held the position until December 1979. In 1962, however, Xiao came under attack from Defense Minister Lin Biao, and Lin relieved him of his PLAN duties in January 1967. When Lin's plane went down over Mongolia in September 1971, Xiao was reinstated but came under immediate attack from Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing. For all practical purposes, the PLAN's political commissar, Li Zuopeng, ran the Navy from 1962 until he was arrested immediately after Lin's plane crash.
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