Zhang Dingfa

Death of Zhang Dingfa

December 14, 2006
| Age 63

Chinese navy commander dead at 63


Zhang Dingfa, who was promoted to commander in China's navy after a submarine accident that killed 70 sailors, has died, state television reported Friday. He was 63.

Zhang died Dec. 14 of an illness and was buried Friday at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery in Beijing, China Central Television said in its evening newscast but did not give any details.

The funeral was attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao, who also heads the Central Military Commission, and Vice President Zeng Qinghong, CCTV said.

Zhang was appointed as a navy commander in 2003, weeks after a mysterious submarine accident that killed 70 sailors in the Yellow Sea -- the first fatal submarine accident disclosed by China's secretive military and one its deadliest known mishaps.

The incident led to the demotions and dismissals of a fleet commander and nine other navy officers. State media did not elaborate on mistakes made and released few details on the accident, but said it "was caused by improper command and control."

Zhang, former commander of China's north fleet, was also a member of a Central Military Commission, which oversees the country's armed forces.

He had been scheduled to stop at an unspecified Russian port next year as part of eight cooperative events between the Chinese and Russian militaries.