Ongoing investigation indicates anti-corruption drive in military institutionalized
China's military on Sunday released the latest list of three senior military officers accused of corruption, a move observers believe indicates that the drive against military corruption has become institutionalized.
The list, announced by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily on its official Sina Weibo account, came after two similar lists were released in early March and mid-January, meaning that the names of 33 military officers suspected of corruption and put under investigation have been released in the last three and a half months.
The three officers under investigation are Dong Mingxiang, former head of the Beijing Military Area Command's joint logistics department, Zhan Guoqiao, former head of the joint logistics department of the Lanzhou Military Area Command and Zhan Jun, deputy commander of the Hubei Provincial Military Command.
"The number of officers involved in the latest list is significantly lower compared to the previous two lists. But it shows that authorities have made anti-graft efforts a regular practice, instead of a short-term campaign," said Yue Gang, a military commentator and retired PLA colonel at the General Staff Department.
More than half of the 33 officers under investigation worked at joint logistics departments or at provincial military area commands.
Eight of the officers worked at joint logistics departments in the major cities of Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, Beijing, and Lanzhou. Another nine worked in provincial military area commands in Shanxi, Sichuan, Heilongjiang, Hubei, and Zhejiang provinces and in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
A retired military leader, who refused to be named, told the Global Times that senior officers working at joint logistics departments, one of the four main departments within the PLA, are more prone to corruption as they exercise control over expenses, land, transport, and all other military resources.
"Officers working for the provincial military area commands may also abuse their power because of their close connections with local departments and enterprises, and may have given military-owned land to them in exchange for benefits," said the retired leader.
Also on Sunday, China Military Online, an online portal under the PLA, reported a speech by General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China, during a recent site visit.
The PLA should clear away the negative influence cast by Xu Caihou, former CMC vice chairman, and must persist with the ongoing anti-graft crackdown against all corruption cases, said Fan.
The PLA announced in early March that 14 senior military officers had been investigated over graft charges, including Guo Zhenggang, deputy political commissar of the Zhejiang Provincial Military Command, who is also the son of Guo Boxiong, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
This came after the announcement in January which revealed that 16 senior PLA officers were also under investigation over suspected corruption.
The first two announcements involved larger numbers of officers and was intended to serve as a warning against corruption within the PLA, said Yue.
"The third announcement was made in a much shorter time after the last one, meaning the authorities have conducted more regular investigations to ensure that the military is managed with the rule of law," Yue noted.
Another military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that the irregular and unpredictable timing of these announcements prove the authorities' ongoing investigation would continue for an unspecified period.
It is also possible that more "tigers," or senior level officials, will be investigated in the future, the expert said.
The PLA earlier in April released a series of rules to tighten management of the military.
Yue said the new rules will target officers working for the logistics department, who have control over military expenditure. The concrete details provided in the rules are an effort to institutionalize military management and will help to prevent the abuse of power, he said.