Zhang was born in Beijing and his ancestors came from Yantou Village, Weinan, Shaanxi Province. He joined the PLA in 1968. In December 2005, he became the vice commander of the PLA Beijing Military Region. He was promoted to commander of the Shenyang Military Region in September 2007. He attained the rank of major general in 1997, and lieutenant general in 2007. He is currently a member of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.