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10 awarded highest military honor

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-29 05:44

10 awarded highest military honor

President Xi Jinping awards medals and certificates to the recipients of the Order of August 1 — the latest and highest military decoration — at the Bayi Building in Beijing on Friday. LI GANG/ XINHUA

President salutes 'generational models', names new PLA generals

President Xi Jinping promoted five people to general in the People's Liberation Army on Friday and awarded 10 people the Order of August 1 — the latest and highest military decoration — for their outstanding contributions to national defense and military modernization.

Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended the ceremony, which took place in Beijing just four days ahead of the PLA's 90th anniversary on Tuesday.

The five new generals are: Han Weiguo, commander of the Central Theater; Liu Lei, political commissar of the PLA Ground Force; Yu Zhongfu, political commissar of the PLA Air Force; Wang Jia-sheng, political commissar of the PLA Rocket Force; and Gao Jin, commander of the PLA Strategic Support Force.

As for the award, this is the fourth time — and the first time since 1988 — that the Chinese military gave its highest military honor to distinguished individuals, who were selected from a list of 17 candidates published in June.

The recipients came from a wide range of military, science and armed police forces, including Rear Admiral Ma Mingwei, the leading engineer of electromagnetic catapult for Chinese aircraft carriers; Major General Jing Haipeng, an astronaut and the commander of the Shenzhou XI spacecraft; and Yin Chunrong, a border policeman who cracked more than 890 drug cases and caught more than 1,470 criminal suspects since 1998.

"All active-duty soldiers and officers from the PLA and armed police should learn from the recipients of the order. … They are the generational models for building a strong military and a strong nation," Xi said in an order read aloud by Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The order also urged all soldiers and officers to enhance political awareness, resolutely obey orders from the central leadership and improve combat readiness, thus to build the PLA into a world-class military.

The previous three award ceremonies took place in 1933, 1955 and 1988. The previous highest military honor was the Order of Heroic Exemplar, which was superseded by the new Order of August 1 after approval by the Central Military Commission in June.

The Order of August 1 — the date of the PLA's founding — was established in 1955 and was given to some of the most senior and prestigious generals, such as Zhu De and Su Yu. But it was a national award that had three classes and was only given to those who distinguished themselves in the revolutionary wars.

The new Order of August 1, which is now a military decoration with only one class, will be awarded once every five years to those who have made outstanding contributions to safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as advancing the modernization of national defense and the armed forces, according to its mission statement.

Chen Yue, a military historian from the Institute of Naval History Studies, said this year's award is a breakthrough, both in merit criteria and recipients.

"In the previous ceremonies, the first-class orders were only granted to legendary generals with the most accomplished resumes. Such esteemed, almost mythical status made it hard for the vast majority of people to relate and learn from their models," he said.

"Now, the 10 recipients come from a wide range of disciplines and fields. ... These are exemplars that we ordinary people can relate to and draw inspiration from."

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