Forty-year-old Wei Huixiao is set to become the Chinese Navy’s first female captain, after cutting her teeth on the force’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning.
The PLA Daily reports that she is only “one step away” from commanding a People’s Liberation Army warship, pending the final go-ahead from the force’s Central Military Commission.
Wei, who hails from Baise, a landlocked backwater in the southwestern Guangxi region, launched her naval career back in 2010. Before then she was a PhD candidate majoring in geoscience at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. She wrote a letter to the then naval commander vice admiral Wu Shengli, volunteering to serve at a time when the PLA sought fresh recruits in preparation for the refurbished carrier Liaoning‘s forthcoming sea trails.
Wei’s CV – she was a student ambassador to visiting US President Bill Clinton, a shortlisted elite volunteer for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and an administrative executive at the Shenzhen-based tech behemoth Huawei for four years – impressed a team of PLA interviewers dispatched to assess her qualifications.
She rose quickly through the ranks in what is typically seen as a man’s world, after joining Liaoning’s crew in 2012 as the ship’s first female deputy director overseeing its marine surveillance division.
Wei started out as a novice, but only eight years later she is likely to become the first ever female captain of a destroyer, a promotion path that takes most graduates from military schools around 15 years.
Wei, born on the birthday of the US General George Patton, is now an intern captain on the Zhengzhou in the navy’s East China Sea Fleet. The Zhengzhou is of the Type 052C guided missile destroyer class that features 360-degree array phased radar and vertically launched HHQ-9 long-range air defense missiles.
She has also served as a deputy captain aboard another Type 052C destroyer, the Changchun.
Sina Military noted that Wei may be assigned to command either a Type 052C destroyer or its more advanced variant, a Type 052D warship. The report speculated that Wei could one day be the captain of a Chinese carrier.