Written by 03:18 World

China Levels Graft Charges Against Former Defense Ministers

China’s leadership accused two former defense ministers on Thursday of taking “huge” bribes and of other acts of corruption that compromised military promotions and the nation’s weapons production complex.

Two announcements from the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo, a council of 24 top officials, laid out multiple accusations of crime and insubordination against Gen. Li Shangfu, the defense minister for much of last year, and Gen. Wei Fenghe, the minister from 2018 to 2023. The statements suggested that more heads could roll in expanding investigations.

Speculation has built since last year that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, had begun inquiries into military corruption and misconduct, after senior officers from the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force were abruptly replaced or had disappeared. General Li’s removal as defense minister in October, after he had vanished from public view for months, added weight to the rumors. But only now has China’s leadership revealed the range of allegations involved in the investigations.

The announcement about General Li said he was found to have taken bribes in return for abusing his powers, including through corrupt personnel decisions, and that he had bribed others and tried to obstruct the investigation into him. The announcement about General Wei made similar accusations, and said that he had been plied with valuables and money.

Both men were stripped of their military ranks and expelled from the Communist Party, and their cases were sent to military prosecutors, meaning, almost inevitably, that both will be put on trial, found guilty and given heavy sentences, even death sentences, if their crimes are judged to be especially severe. The statements also suggested that their misdeeds amounted to a betrayal of Mr. Xi, who is chairman of the Central Military Commission as well as party leader.

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Last modified: 28 June 2024
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