Chinese Air Force Changes Leadership

In advance of China’s anticipated political leadership change later this year, China reshuffled some of its top military ranks, naming Gen. Ma Xiaotian commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, reported Reuters. Ma replaces Gen. Xu Quiliang at a critical time for the PLAAF as it transitions into a smaller, more modern air arm as part of China’s overall military modernization, according to the Oct. 24 report. Ma, who until his promotion served as head of the PLA’s General Staff Department, has been considered one of the more familiar faces of the military leadership, speaking at events and forums around the world and meeting with US officials. Reuters said it was unclear where Xu would end up, but speculation was that he would become one of the two vice chairmen of the influential Central Military Commission, which President Hu Jintao leads. Both Ma and Xu have similar backgrounds in the PLAAF, as both were fighter pilots who entered the service in the mid 1960s, according to National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs. (See also A Revolution for China’s Air Force from Air Force Magazine’s 2012 archive.)