Cao Gangchuan (simplified Chinese: 曹刚川; traditional Chinese: 曹剛川; pinyin: Cáo Gāng Chuān) (born December 1935) is vice chairman of Central Military Commission and former Minister of National Defense of the People's Republic of China. He was also state councilor and director of the PLA General Armament Department.
Cao Gangchuan, native of Wugang, Henan Province, was born in December 1935. For two years from 1954 he was a student of Nanjing No. 3 Artillery Ordnance Technical School and No.1 Ordnance Technical School. Then in 1956, he became a teacher of the No. 1 Ordnance Technical School. In the same year he attended the PLA Dalian Russian-Language School, before spending six years from 1957 at the Military Engineering School of the Artillery Corps of the Soviet Union. On returning in China in 1963 he was Assistant of Ammunition Division of Ordnance Department of PLA General Logistics Department, until 1969, when he became Assistant of Munitions Division in the same department.
He was promoted in 1975 to a staff officer and deputy director of General Planning Division of Military Equipment Department of PLA Headquarters of the General Staff. Then in 1982 he was made deputy director of Military Equipment Department. Steadily moving through the ranks of the PLA's hierarchy, in 1989 he was made director of Military Affairs Department of PLA Headquarters of the General Staff, then one year later, director of the Office of Military Trade of Central Military Commission. For four years from 1992 he was deputy chief of the general staff of PLA.