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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 8. Liang Guanglie

Great warrior of China

Though not a well-known name in the west, the Chinese defence minister has been watched closely by the US government since his appointment in 2008. The 70-year-old general is an important figure in the swift increase in China's defence spending. He has overseen the development of his country's first aircraft carrier and the testing of a stealth fighter. Since joining the People's Liberation Army in 1958, and the Communist Party in 1959, Guanglie has surged through the ranks of the military. By 2002, he was chief of general staff - a position he kept for five years, before being promoted to defence minister.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter