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Corruption - Military

Graft in the armed forces could undermine their ability on the battlefield. It greatly affects the military's image and hinders the development of national defense. The number and seniority of officers detained or arrested for corruption raised questions about the combat potential of a military that had not fought a war in five decades.

China's military's has been a focus of Xi's ongoing anti-graft crackdown. Corruption has long been considered rife within the PLA, with top generals reported to have accumulated vast wealth. The scale of the graft fell afoul of Xi's objective of modernizing the military Critics say Xi's anti-graft campaign is partly a cover to purge the military and Communist Party to consolidate control.

In January 2021 the Communist Party of China [CPC] has expelled former chief commander of its ambitious multi-billion-dollar aircraft carrier programme Hu Wenming for corruption and abuse of power, and launched a legal proceeding against him in one of the major defence scandals of the country. Hu was expelled from the CPC for severely violating party discipline and being suspected of taking bribes and misfeasance. Hu had lost his faith, gone astray from the party spirit and did not fully implement the CPCs important decisions. He also engaged in superstitious activities, resisted the investigation and violated party discipline by accepting banquets and bribes.

In an unusually candid December 2011 speech, PLA Logistics Department Political Commissar General Liu Yuan, son of former Chinese President Liu Shaoqi (19591968) and potential friend of President Xi Jinping, reportedly said, No country can defeat China . . . Only our corruption can destroy us and cause our armed forces to be defeated without fighting. General Liu in a later speech reportedly explained, Certain individuals exchange public money, public goods, public office, and public affairs for personal gain, flouting the law and party codes of conduct, even resorting to verbal abuse and threats, clandestine plots and set ups . . . They deploy all of the tricks of the mafia trade within the army itself.

Corruption in the military became widespread in the 1980s, as the PLA branched out into business, seeking opportunity in the new market reforms. Chinese leaders ordered the PLA to withdraw from commercial activities in 1998, but the proces took time. In the new century, graft flared anew, due in no small part to soaring value of land for development, including military land.

In July 1998 President Jiang Zemin ordered the military to shut down all its business enterprises as part of the country's current anti-smuggling campaign. The People's Liberation Army had become heavily involved in the civilian sector of China's economy over the previous two decades, and many analysts wondered if it was possible for the PLA to divest itself of this significant source of revenue.

The army was involved in just about every kind of business. They ran guest houses. They ran karaoke parlors. They ran motor bike manufacturing plants. And they also had been involved in coal mining, horse raising and making sewing machines. Although the Chinese government had been trying to rein in the commercial activities of the PLA for many years, and thus far without success, there was no supposition that just because the order is given it would actually be obeyed.

The revenue derived from these industries was very important to a large number of people in the Chinese military, from the very top people to the grass roots units. No one was precisely sure how much of the PLA operations depended on their income from business enterprises. But it was a substantial amount, that went toward making the difference between a very spartan lifestyle for the units at the bottom and having some of the amenities of life, like repairing barracks. And of course, at the top, it enables people to buy Mercedes sedans and establish foreign bank accounts and entertain lavishly, which is the prelude toward creating guanxi (contacts / relations), and going on to even better things.

The PLA become involved in "civilian sector" enterprises after they were actually urged to do so by none other than Deng Xxiaoping soon after he took over the reins of government in 1978-1979. The military wanted military modernization, and so did Deng. But he was very well aware that China could not graft a strong military onto a weak economy. So he told the PLA the best way to ensure military modernization is to help with the modernization of the civilian economy.

President Jiang Zzemin's announcement for the military to close down these operations was confirmation that the military businesses had been involved in smuggling and other illegal, corrupt activities. The top brass of the military has been worried about this since around 1985. They sometimes refer to the PLA as the "great steel wall," and they said, in so many words, that they worried that the great steel wall was rusting.

So widespread was the trade in ranks that there wre unofficial price tags. Promotion to general cost at least 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) and to senior colonel more than half that. Even just enlisting as an ordinary soldier could cost at least 10,000 yuan in bribes. By some accounts, the going rate to simply join the army, depending on guanxi, or connections, was as much as $16,000. If the applicants guanxi was really strong it would cost around 50,000 yuan [$8,000] per quota; if not, the price might be 100,000 yuan [$16,000] at least.

Most duty crime cases in the military occurred in the areas of construction, personnel and finance management, and materials and armament procurement. Logistics posts had become one of the most susceptible to corruption.

Nevertheless, empirical evidence of PLA corruption remains limited. Only two high-profile PLA corruption cases had become known since 2005. Admiral Wang Shouye was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for embezzling approximately $20 million. General Gu Junshan was removed from his post in 2012, and the investigation apparently is ongoing. Both Admiral Wang and General Gu had served as the deputy director of the PLA General Logistics Department, suggesting officers in logistics positions may be more susceptible to corruption, or corruption charges, due to their involvement in infrastructure and natural resources.

In a meeting shortly after becoming the CMC chairman, President Xi urged senior PLA officers to take a firm stand against corruption and to maintain a strict work style and iron discipline. Since then, reducing corruption and waste in the PLA has been one of President Xis most consistent messages in his public speeches to the military. In addition to rhetoric, President Xi has announced stronger anticorruption regulations for the PLA, including restrictions on military personnel holding banquets, drinking excessive alcohol, and using luxury hotels.

President Xis focus on combating corruption in the PLA is part of the CCPs larger national effort to boost its image to mitigate growing public disillusionment with politics and governance in China. He also is attempting to end practices such as paying for promotion and graft, which some observers have suggested reduces the quality of officers, perpetuates opposition to reforms, threatens PLA modernization and readiness, and undermines loyalty to the CCP.

President Xi Jinping launched a sweeping campaign against graft since becoming party chief in late 2012, vowing to take down powerful tigers as well as lowly flies. Xi Jingping's anti-graft campaign had the primary objective of stabilizing the Communist Party," he said. "He is using this anti-graft campaign to regain legitimacy and trust for the Communist Party in the eyes of the people. The larger goal of the anti-graft campaign was to try changing how power is exercised in China and remove the most blatant cases of tutelage and abuses.

The People's Liberation Army was reeling from the crackdown and had seen dozens of officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou. The 16th and 47th Group Armies were the power base of disgraced former CMC vice-chairmen Gen. Xu Caihou and Gen. Guo Boxiong. Guo was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, while Xu Caihou was charged with corruption but died in 2015 while under investigation. Xu Caihou was approved as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Fourth Plenum of the 16th CPC Central Committee, which ended in Beijing on 19 September 2004.

A system of bribery in exchange for promotions, for example, is thought to have been pervasive in the senior officer ranks. The practice was overseen by Xu Caihou. Lieutenant General Gu Junshan was accused of selling hundreds of positions in the armed forces, sometimes for extraordinary sums. If a senior colonel (not in line for promotion) wanted to become a major general, he had to pay up to 30 million yuan ($4.8 million). Lower ranking military positions were sold for hundreds of thousand of yuan.

Xu, previously a member of the CPC Central Military Commission, was born as a native of Wafangdian, Liaoning Province, northeast China, in June 1943. He joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in August 1963 and was trained from 1963 to 1968 at the Electronics Engineering Department of the Harbin Institute of Military Engineering. He joined the Party in April 1971. He was secretary and deputy head of the Personnel Division of the Political Department of the Jilin Military Area Command during 1972 and 1982.

Xu was appointed director of the Mass Work Section of the Political Department of the Shenyang Military Area Command during 1984 and 1985, and political commissar of the 16th Group Army of the Ground Force between 1990 and 1992. Xu served as deputy director of the PLA General Political Department during 1993 and 1996. He was made member of the CPC Central Military Commission and executive deputy director of the PLA General Political Department between 1999 and 2002. Xu was also a member of the 16th CPC Central Committee and of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee.

The allegations that retired General Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, took bribes in exchange for giving promotions marks the highest-profile corruption case since that of disgraced politician Bo Xilai in 2013. Xu was accused of accepting bribes and putting a price tag on military promotions as second-in-command of China's 2.3 million armed forces until his retirement.

Former CMC vice chairman Xu Caihou was the biggest "tiger" on the army's corrupt figures' list. Xu was found to have fraudulently promoted officers and accepted huge bribes. Xu Caihou had taken the military to be a market. He sold military positions for money for years. This situation went too far. Those military officers were only loyal to the person who provided the positions that they paid for. In China, whoever can control the military power can seize the whole power strongly.

Xu Caihou, China's former vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), was taken from his sick bed at a military hospital in Beijing on 20 March 2014. His wife, daughter and personal secretary were taken into custody on the same day. The detention is linked to the probe of People's Liberation Army Lieutenant-General Gu Junshan, a former subordinate of Xu who has been detained since 2012.

Xu's detention sent shock waves through the Chinese military but China's top leader, President Xi Jinping, would not and could not punish the scores of high and middle-ranking officers who had bribed Xu to get their ranks and positions. Xi Jinping cannot investigate the greater part of all those military officers that bought titles or ranks from Xu Caihou because the Central Commission for Discipline had already detained nearly everyone connected to Zhou Yongkang that it can. But currently its said out of all those that are either close to Xu Caihou or gave him money, only a few had been detained. Furthermore, Xi Jinping needed the support of the military.

On 20 November 2014, Phoenix Weekly published one of the first in-depth reports on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspections ongoing corruption investigation into Xu Caihou, a former member of the CCP Politburo and former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) under President Hu Jintao. In late June, Xu became the highest ranking PLA official to be purged from the CCP in nearly three decades.

The report detailed the enormous scale of assets confiscated from Xus property. A dozen military trucks were needed to haul away more than a ton of cash, hundreds of kilograms of precious woods, gems, and rare jade, as well as ancient paintings and antiques. Although the report was initially carried by several Chinese news outlets, the article since was censored within China.

According to a high-level source at the General Logistics Department of the CMC referenced in the report, the slow pace of Xus investigation and subsequent expulsion from the CPC was due to disagreements between factions within the government. Members of the CMC support Xu, whereas members of the CCP Central Committee have an interest in bringing down corrupt officials at the highest levels. Only after being confronted with the detailed list of confiscated items did Xu admit defeat, according to the report.

Guo Boxiong was sentenced 25 July 2016 to life in prison on bribery charges, a move that came as President Xi Jinping attempted to consolidate power and tighten his grip on China's military. Guo was also stripped of his rank and forced to give all of his assets to the government. The 74 -year-old Guo was once vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo, the party's main policymaking committee.

A former member of China's Central Military Commission has committed suicide in November 2017 after authorities opened a corruption probe against him. Zhang Yang was being investigated over his ties to two corruption-tainted generals. Zhang Yang was "suspected of giving and taking bribes" and the origin of a large amount of his assets was unclear, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the commission. "On the afternoon of November 23, Zhang Yang committed suicide at home," the Xinhua report stated.

The probe against Zhang, who was the director of the military's Political Work Department, focused on his suspected links to two corruption-tainted former generals. He allegedly had ties with Guo Boxiong, who received a life sentence for graft in July 2016, as well as Xu Caihou, who died of cancer in March 2015 while on trial. Both Xu and Guo were former chairmen of the Central Military Commission which is chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Fang Fenghui, a former top Chinese general was sentenced to life in prison for bribery and having an unclear source of assets, state news agency Xinhua reported on 20 February 2019. He was abruptly replaced as chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in August 2017 and placed under investigation for corruption. He was later expelled from the Communist Party and stripped of his rank in October 2018 ahead of his court-martial. It represented a quick fall from grace for a general who had accompanied President Xi Jinping on his first trip to visit US President Donald Trump in 2017. Xinhua reported that the military court also stripped Fang of his political rights for life and ordered the confiscation of all his personal assets.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:36 ZULU