Retired Military Leader Subject of Graft Inquiry

The Chinese government has expelled Guo Boxiong, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and transferred him to prosecutors to face corruption charges. As the most senior figure to be investigated for graft, Guo joins a long list of current and former officials netted in President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. At South China Morning Post, Li Jing and Minnie Chan report:

Investigations found Guo allegedly accepted bribes “personally and through his family members” in exchange for granting promotions in the military, Xinhua reported, citing the Politburo.  The announcement came ahead of the People’s Liberation Army’s anniversary tomorrow.

The report said that in line with party disciplinary rules, the Central Committee decided on April 9 to put Guo under investigation. “His acts seriously violated party discipline and left a vile impact,” the Politburo said.

Guo is the most senior military official to be investigated for corruption  in the ongoing campaign. His expulsion comes more than a year after the downfall of former top general , who was also a vice-chairman of the commission under former president Hu Jintao. [Source]

Xu Caihou admitted to taking bribes in exchange for granting favors and promotions before dying from bladder cancer in March.

The New York Times’ Chris Buckley has more on Guo’s downfall:

Before retiring in 2012, General Guo had ascended to the apex of China’s military establishment as a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. He ranked above General Xu, the other vice chairman toppled on corruption charges, and both men served in the Politburo, one of the party’s innermost rings of power.

But starting earlier this year, General Guo went through the now-established pattern of defenestration for Chinese officials charged with graft. In rumors and online, he acquired the nickname of “the wolf of the northwest,” a reference to the region where he had spent time earlier in his career, and also to his reputation for voracious greed.

His family came under scrutiny, and in March the Chinese military confirmed that his son, also a senior officer, was under investigation for corruption. Chinese magazines and newspapers also revealed allegationsthat the son and his wife had enriched themselves in illegal property deals using military-owned land.

The announcement about General Guo followed an investigation begun in April. Now military prosecutors will examine the case, and almost surely, he will face trial and conviction by a party-controlled military court. [Source]

Observers believe Xi Jinping wants to use Guo’s case not only to solidify his control over the army, but also to turn the institution into a modern military force. From The Economist:

The arrest is a further assertion of Mr Xi’s control over the military; he has stressed the “absolute leadership” of the party over the PLA since taking office in 2012. More than 15 senior ranking figures have been accused of corruption in the past year, including Xu Caihou, another high-ranking figure who died of bladder cancer earlier this year before his case could come to trial. As with the anti-corruption in other parts of the government, lesser ranking army officers have been netted along side the big names.

This is not just about control, however. Though Mr Xi needs the PLA’s support, he is also keen to modernise the army to make it a lean, fighting force readily able to deploy. Taking bribes for promotions, as Mr Guo is accused of, does not fit that goal. The PLA is a key tool by which Mr Xi hopes to project China’s power abroad: on September 3rd there will be a giant military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the second world war, which the government hopes that dignitaries from around the world will attend. [Source]