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Born in Suzhou, Anhui Province, he joined the army in July 1951 and joined Communist Party of China in May 1956. He graduated from PLA 16th infantry school, and also studied in 5th preparatory group of Air Force and the 10th aeronautics school of PLA.
In January 1954, he became a mechanist in a division of Air Force, supervisor assistant in organization section of political department of the division and the vice political commissar of airplane group. He was appointed secretary of secretariat of political department of Air Force in March 1966. In October 1970, he was elevated to vice section chief and later section chief of cadres section in political department of Air Force, and vice director of cadre section of political department of Air Force in PLA Shenyang Military Region.
In May 1980, he became vice political commissar of air-arm division of Air Force. In July 1981, he was promoted to director of cadre section of political department of Air Force in Shenyang Military Region. He became a vice political commissar of Air Force army corps in May 1983. From September 1983 to January 1984, he was studying at CPC Central Party School. In November 1985, he became vice director of political department of Air Force. He was made director of political department and standing committee member of CPC committee in Air Force. From March to May 1989, he was trained as a senior official at PLA National Defense University. From November 1992 to January 1999, he served as political commissar and Party chief of PLA Air Force.
He attained the rank of major general of the PLAAF in September 1988, lieutenant general in July 1990, and general in January 1996.
- "China Vitae : Biography of Ding Wenchang". China Vitae. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
- James C. Mulvenon; Andrew N. D. Yang (2002). "Chapter 9: PLA Air Force Organization". The People's Liberation Army as Organization: Reference Volume v1.0 (PDF). RAND. p. 362. Retrieved 18 November 2010.