Mao's grandson becomes youngest major-general in China armyChairman Mao’s grandson may be the very model of a modern major-general, possibly the youngest in all of the People’s Liberation Army.
Speaking recently in his capacity as a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences and as an expert in Mao Zedong Thought, Mao Xinyu was introduced as a major-general.
It was the first clue that the only known surviving male heir to the Great Helmsman may have been promoted from senior colonel.
His elevation, reportedly received in June, makes the scion of the Mao family the youngest major-general in the 2.5-million-strong PLA and the first to be born in the 1970s. He is only 39.
The son of the late Chairman’s second son, the younger Mao began his career in the late 1980s when he was spotted working as a student waiter at the newly opened and ultra-smart Shangri-La hotel in Beijing.
He later entered the army, following in the footsteps of his mother – who also reached the rank of major-general. His uncle, Mao Zedong’s eldest son, was also a soldier but was killed fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Mao Xinyu has followed a less dangerous path, serving as a deputy head of the academy’s research centre on war and military strategy. In a recent interview with a prominent Chinese magazine, the younger Mao said he had now fulfilled a dream.
“I never thought I would be able to enter the military, even less did I dream that I could reach the rank of major-general," he said.
However, some media have voiced doubts about his elevation, nothing there has been no confirmation from the secretive military of his promotion.
Latest photographs show him still wearing the insignia of a colonel on his uniform. But a journalist who reported on a recent speech by the younger Mao in his father’s native province of Hunan, was corrected by an aide to the son of the first family who altered his story to identify Mao Xinyu as a major-general rather than as a colonel. That was the first clue to a possible promotion.
Mao Xinyu would join the ranks of several other renowned major-generals who are not on active service. Among the most famous is popular PLA singer Peng Liyuan, 47, the wife of Xi Jinping, the Politburo Standing Committee member and Vice-President widely expected to be China’s next leader.
Others are table tennis sensation Wang Tao, 42, China’s first man in space, Yang Liwei, 44, and glamourous crooner Song Zuying, 43, who sang at the Olympics closing ceremony.
The younger Mao, who unusually in China has two children, has said he hopes his son will follow him into the army.
Mao's grandson becomes youngest major-general in China army - Times Online