Biography: Liang Guanglie
Born in 1940, in Sichuan Province
Grade: CMC Member (Grade 2)
Current Positions: Member, Central Military Commission; Chief of the PLA General Staff
Delegations Headed: November 2004 – United States, New Zealand and Australia
May 2004 – Russia, France, Britain and Romania
September 2003 – Pakistan, Brunei and Malaysia
May 2003 – Tanzania, South Africa and Morocco
September 2001 – Belgium, Netherlands and Greece
June 2000 – United States Pacific Command
December 1998 – Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Madagascar
Comments: A native of Sichuan Province, Liang became a member of the Communist Part of China (CPC) in 1958 and joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the following year at the age of nineteen. Much of Liang's first two decades in the PLA were spent in the Wuhan Military Region (MR) where he served as a Deputy Section Chief and later Deputy Director of the Operations Department. Apart from a year spent studying in Nanjing, Liang spent much of the 1980's with the 20th Army Corps in Henan Province. He was promoted to Major General after completing four months of study at the National Defence University in late 1987. Liang was an alternate member of both the 13th and 14th CPC Central Committees (1987-97). From 1993-97, he served in the Beijing MR, first as Chief of Staff and later as the MR's Deputy Commander during which time he was promoted to Lieutenant General. Liang then served as Commander of the Shenyang MR for two years before being transferred to head the Nanjing MR from 1999-2002. Liang became a full member of the CPC Central Committee at the 15th CPC Congress in 1997 and a CMC member at the subsequent CPC Congress in 2002. He also took over leadership of the General Staff Department in 2002.
As Chief of the General Staff, Liang is in charge of the most important of the PLA's four general departments. Liang has ample experience in troop command and has served in leadership positions in three different Military Regions. While commanding the Nanjing MR, the Military Region primarily responsible for operations against Taiwan, Liang played a direct role in co-ordinating military exercises directed against the island.
Foreign Travel: Liang has led several delegations abroad in recent years. His most recent trip took him to the United States, Australia and New Zealand where he met with then Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers. Liang also toured the US Pacific Command in 2000 and met with its last two commanders, Admirals Thomas Fargo and Dennis Blair, during their most recent trips to the Mainland. In addition to the listing of delegations led below, Liang accompanied then Defence Minister Chi Haotian on a visit to Indonesia in 2002.
The author is an Asia security analyst for the CNA Corporation, Washington, DC.