Xi appoints new chief of China’s nuclear arsenal

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping, also the military’s commander-in-chief, on Monday appointed a new head of the armed force overseeing the nation’s conventional – and nuclear – missiles, one day before the anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army.

Wang Houbin, former deputy commander of the navy, was named the new head of the PLA Rocket Force, and Xu Xisheng, its new political commissar, with both men acquiring the top rank of general, according to state media.

Until his move to the PLA Rocket Force, Wang had been deputy commander of the navy since 2020. He was previously also the deputy chief of staff at the Navy.

Xu was formerly the deputy political commissar of the Southern Theatre Command, one of the PLA’s five theatre commands.

State media did not say where the PLA Rocket Force’s previous chief, Li Yuchao, was reassigned or state his whereabouts.

The new appointments came a day ahead of the 96th anniversary of the PLA’s founding on Aug. 1.

Xi has repeatedly urged the military to deepen war and combat planning to increase the chances of victory in actual combat to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territory.

China says it is committed to a defensive nuclear strategy, and pledges to no first use of nuclear weapons. It says it will also not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear weapon free zones.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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