A former missile unit Commander Lt. Gen Wei Fenghe was appointed new defense minister by China on Monday.
The 63-year-old Lieutenant General is a close confidant of President Xi Jinping. He was the last commander of China’s missile unit- Second Artillery Group before its split into People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force.
The Rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC) appointed him as the defense minister. The NPC also appointed Xu Qiliang and Zhang Youxia as vice chairman of the Central Military Commision.
In China, the military functioned under the CMC headed by Xi. He took the power in 2013 and has completely overhauled the command structure of the PLA, the world’s largest army.
In 2018 China has increased its military budget to USD 175 billion with 8.1 percent rise as compared to the previous year. It is thrice as compared to India.
Wei joined the SAC in 1970 at an early age of 16. He studied rocket engineering at a missile school under the Commision for Science, Technology for National defense.
He went to train as a strategic missile commander at the Second Artillery Corps’ college in Wuhan in Central China.
An official told the media,” Wei was among the first of a number of senior military officers to pledge their loyalty to Xi even before the president announced his ambitious reform programme.”
Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman could be his first guest.Sitharaman has recently announced that she would visit China next month. It will be the first visit by a top Indian official since 73-day long standoff at Dokalam in Sikkim last year.
The visit was announced amid diplomatic efforts by India and China to reset the relations on a positive mode. The visits could include India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit that will take place at Qingdao in June.