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Xi’s hunt for corrupt officials shakes up PLA
  • The Statesman
  • 08 Apr 2014
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Chinese president’s anti-graft campaign rumbles through Chinese military
Press Trust of India
Beijing, 7 April
President Xi Jinping's hunt for corrupt generals heading the Chinese military is shaking up the PLA as the net widened to track the support base of two top officials caught with millions of dollars in assets.
The detention of Xu Caihou, the powerful Vice-Chairman of Military Commission under previous President Hu Jintao who controlled the armed forces till 2012, could lead to a major shake-up at the top of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), a media report said.
Xu, 70, was placed under official investigation on corruption charges, along with his wife, daughter and one of his former secretaries.
He was promoted to the Central Military Commission in 1999 and became its vice-chairman in 2004 after Hu came to power.
Because Hu was known for his weak control of the armed forces, Xu was in fact in charge of day-to-day management for a decade during which corruption became more rampant, particularly with the widespread practice of senior officers seeking bribes in return for giving promotions, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Earlier there were suggestions that the leadership was under pressure to let Xu off the hook, partly because bringing him down would shake public confidence in the PLA and also because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
But widespread anger against corruption, epitomised by irregularities involving Xu and his associate Gu Junshan ~ a former deputy logistics chief at the PLA ~ apparently forced the leadership to reconsider, it said.
Xu's detention took place in dramatic fashion as weeks before that he was seen having a conversation with Xi at a reception for retired generals, giving an impression that he was close to the present leadership.
Seeing him striking a conversation with Mr Xi was apparently taken by Xu's allies as a sure sign that he was off the hook of reported anti-corruption probe against him.
“Following the conversation, several senior officers who owed their promotions to Xu immediately approached him, fawning on him with military salutes and compliments about his health. All this was clearly taken in by Mr Xi,” the report said.
“It turns out that those senior military officers must have deeply regretted their actions, as this was most probably the last public appearance by Xu,” it said.
The detention of Xu also paved the way for the arrest of Gu Junshan who is slated to stand trial in a military court on charges of embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power.
Gu is believed to have amassed a vast personal fortune of hundreds of millions of yuan after receiving kickbacks for selling military land to property developers and engaging in other illicit activities, the report said.
Gu was reportedly sacked and arrested early in 2012, but the long delay in bringing him to trial was believed to be due to the leadership's indecision on how to deal with Xu, Gu's long-time ally and protector.
State media quoted Gong Fangbin, a senior military researcher, giving more details about Gu's case and confirming press reports about Gu's vast personal fortune included more than 30 flats, cash, gold ornaments, paintings, luxury watches, ivory and liquor.
Mr Xi is also more likely to use the opportunity to weed out Xu's followers and rein in the military as part of his overall efforts to consolidate his power. He has set up a leading group headed by himself in the Central Military Commission to push for reforms in the armed forces.
The commission has also set up four other steering groups focusing on anti-corruption, the mass-line political campaign, infrastructure and property, plus training in the PLA. An anti-corruption inspection team scrutinised the leadership of the Beijing and the Jinan military commands, two of the country's seven military regions.

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