Two Chinese Defense Ministers expelled by Chinese Communist Party for Corruption


China’s Communist Party says it has expelled two former defense ministers, Li Shangfu and his predecessor, Wei Fenghe, on allegations of corruption and bribery.

According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, “Li Shangfu betrayed his original mission … betrayed the trust of the Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission… and caused great damage to the party cause and national defense.”

The report also added that an investigation led by the disciplinary and supervisory agency of the party’s Central Military Commission found Li to have “sought personnel benefits for himself and others,” and to have not fulfilled his political duties.

Li is also suspected of receiving “huge sums of money” in bribes as well as bribing others, according to the report.

The report from Xinhua was the first official confirmation of Li’s investigation, which was launched in August of last year, and provides details of the nature of his alleged crimes.

Last October, Li was removed from office after remaining out of the public’s view for nearly two months. He was replaced last December by Admiral Dong Jun.

Li’s predecessor Wei Fenghe also disappeared from public view for an extended period of time after he was replaced during a cabinet reshuffle last March.

Since coming to power more than a decade ago, China’s leader Xi Jinping has carried out an expansive anti-corruption campaign. One key focus has been fighting corruption in the military.

Over the past year, Xi has removed around a dozen People’s Liberation Army, PLA, generals and a handful of aerospace defense industry executives from posts over alleged wrong doing.

He also appointed a new head and political commissar of the PLA Rocket Force last July after the sudden disappearance of then-foreign minister Qin Gang along with several leading officers in the rocket corps amid unproven allegations of misconduct.

Speaking at China’s first military political work conference in a decade last week, Xi highlighted the need to, “eradicate the soil and conditions in which corruption thrives [and] expand the depth and breadth of the anti-corruption struggle,” according to Chinese state media.

At the meeting, he also asserted the need to, “strengthen the all-round supervision of senior cadres in exercising their duties and using their powers.”

Reaction to Xi’s campaign against corruption has been mixed. Supporters say Xi’s focus on anti-corruption is focused on clean governance while critics argue his focus may serve as a means to sweep out political rivals.

Ying-Yu Lin, an assistant professor with the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taipei told VOA’s Mandarin Service that the expulsions highlight broader concerns for China’s military.

“I think this is a systemic problem within the entire PLA, and is not just an issue of individual misconduct,” Lin said. “It is the institutional organization that has led to the formation of such a corrupt group.”

He also alluded to other potential larger scale issues saying, “this [corruption] could also affect its [China’s] military strength or combat capabilities.”__VOA News