On Nov. 2, Xi Jinping personally promoted Lt. General Zhang Shengmin to full general. Zhang is a Central Military Commission (CMC) member and the head of the CMC Disciplinary Inspection Commission.
Rocket-style promotion: Zhang Shengmin joining the new 7-member CMC was his fourth promotion since Xi initiated sweeping military reforms in late 2015:
- Dec. 2015: Promoted to CMC Training and Administration Department member
- Nov. 2016: Promoted to Logistic Support Department Political Commissar
- Feb. 2017: Promoted to CMC Disciplinary Inspection Commission Secretary
- Oct. 2017: Promoted to Central Military Commission member
Xi was able to bend the PLA’s time restrictions for promoting full generals in Zhang’s case (he had only spent about a year and a half as Lt. General) because all military members of the CMC have to hold the rank of General.
Our take: Zhang spent most of his career in the PLA Second Artillery Corps alongside General Wei Fenghe, another new CMC member. Wei himself received an exceptional promotion in 2012 when Xi Jinping came to office. There is a possibility that Zhang’s “rocket-style promotion” owes to Wei recommending him to Xi.