Military’s pub­lic face hangs up flak jacket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@chi­

Se­nior Colonel Yang Yu­jun, who of­fi­cially re­tired as a spokesman for the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense on Wed­nes­day, of­ten pep­pered his brief­ings with hu­mor and in­ter­net buzz­words.

Yang, 47, who joined the min­istry’s in­for­ma­tion of­fice in 2010 and was ap­pointed its di­rec­tor in 2015, stepped down due to the health is­sues of close fam­ily mem­bers.

Hailed by his col­leagues as an in­de­pen­dent and deep thinker, he also is re­garded as some­one who man­aged to con­nect with younger gen­er­a­tions.

In 2013, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on the pos­si­bil­ity of China’s first air­craft car­rier, the CNS Liaon­ing, tak­ing part in a far-sea op­er­a­tion, Yang said the ves­sel was not a zhainan, a word com­monly used by ne­ti­zens that trans­lates as “in­doorsy man”.

He also sug­gested in Septem­ber that Ash Carter, then the US de­fense sec­re­tary, should not shuaiguo — a buzz­word mean­ing to throw un­wanted re­spon­si­bil­ity onto oth­ers — af­ter the United States crit­i­cized China fol­low­ing a nu­clear mis­sile test by the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

“I love my uni­form, and my job at the in­for­ma­tion of­fice, and I have given my heart and soul through­out my military ca­reer,” Yang told Global Times.

He re­ceived a thun­der­ing ova­tion from the jour­nal­ists in at­ten­dance at his fi­nal news con­fer­ence in April.

Over the years, Yang has an­swered count­less ques­tions from re­porters on ur­gent and sen­si­tive is­sues.

In ad­di­tion to a monthly news con­fer­ence, the in­for­ma­tion of­fice is tasked with pub­lic re­la­tions, cri­sis man­age­ment, me­dia ex­changes, help­ing to draft the na­tional se­cu­rity white pa­per, and in­ter­act­ing with ne­ti­zens through so­cial me­dia.

“My fam­ily has been very sup­port­ive for my work, but I have owed my fam­ily too much, and now they need me more than ever,” Yang said. He said he has no other plans for the fu­ture, and would first spend his sum­mer with his fam­ily.

Typ­i­cally, se­nior gov­ern­ment spokes­men and women go into busi­ness or teach­ing af­ter re­tire­ment.

Se­nior Colonel Wu Qian, 44, has been ap­pointed as the new di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s in­for­ma­tion of­fice. He was pre­vi­ously deputy di­rec­tor and has been a spokesman since 2015.

He grad­u­ated from the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions in 1995 and has also been a coun­selor at the min­istry’s for­eign af­fairs of­fice be­fore join­ing the in­for­ma­tion of­fice.

I love my uni­form, and my job at the in­for­ma­tion of­fice, and I have given my heart and soul through­out my military ca­reer.” Yang Yu­jun, for­mer spokesman for the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense

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