The Central Committee for Protection and Health Care said Thanh died at 3:45 a.m. Saturday, and information on his funeral will be announced later.
Thanh was Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense from 2006 to 2016.
He was member of the Party Central Committee and the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Born in 1949 in Hanoi, he enlisted in 1967 and fought in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979.
He was sent to study in the Soviet Union twice, between January and December 1983 and later for around a year between 1989 and 1990.
Between 1983 and 1989, he was head of different divisions under the Vietnamese People’s Army.
After returning to Vietnam in 1990, he served as deputy head and later head of the Combat Operations Department of the General Staff under the Ministry of National Defense and then Commander of the 1st Military Region, which is in charge of northeast Vietnam.
From June 2001 to April 2006, he was Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnamese People’s Army.
In April 2006, he was elected to the Politburo and appointed as Minister of National Defense by the legislative National Assembly.
He was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1994, Lieutenant General in 1999, and Colonel General in 2003.
On July 6, 2007, he was awarded the rank of General by President Nguyen Minh Triet.
General Phung Quang Thanh (R) speaks at a national conference on Vietnamese army in December, 2014. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Van Thanh
In 2015, as sitting minister, he had to travel to France for his health problem.
Back then, Pham Gia Khai, a member of the Central Committee for Protection and Health Care, said Thanh had suffered lung damage from a traffic accident during the Vietnam War.
Later, he had been diagnosed with lung fibrosis.
In July, 2015, Thanh returned from France and was announced to be in stable condition.
Three months later, at a panel discussion at the NA, he spent an hour giving a speech on the situation of national defense and security.
He affirmed that Vietnam maintains an independent and self-reliant relationship, and does not go with “this powerful country to fight another powerful country.”
“We only defend and protect our country and we never invade or attack anyone. But we must have the strength to protect our own nation,” he said.
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