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China Military General Admits to Taking Bribes

  • Shannon Van Sant

FILE - Chinese General Xu Caihou listens to national anthems during welcome ceremony at the Pentagon, Washington.

FILE - Chinese General Xu Caihou listens to national anthems during welcome ceremony at the Pentagon, Washington.

One of China's top generals has admitted to taking huge bribes. He is the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.

Former People’s Liberation Army General Xu Caihou had been vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission and a member of China’s influential 25 member Politburo.

Although China has not announced charges against the 71-year-old, Xu has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and had his rank of general revoked.

China’s state run news agency Xinhua published a statement saying Xu admitted to taking bribes; the article was a culmination of a seven month investigation by Chinese authorities. China announced the allegations against Xu on June 30.

“Xu Caihou is actually the head of a massive corruption ring, which involves possibly a few hundred senior officials, says University of Hong Kong China Scholar Willy Lam. "What happened over the last 10 odd years these lower or mid-ranking officials paid Xu huge sums of money, a few billion renminbi, in order to get promotions and other advantages. And he is also a significant case because he was a Politburo member.”

Soon after assuming power President Xi Jinping launched a corruption crackdown in China, banning extravagant expenditures and arresting dozens of officials.

Senior officials ousted

Besides Xu, three senior officials have been ousted from the Communist Party for corruption; former minister in charge of state assets Jiang Jiemin, former vice minister of public security Li Dongsheng, and former deputy head of the China National Petroleum Corporation Wang Yongchun.

“To me a more easy way to understand the reason for why these figures are being beaten up so much is because they were taking away the legitimacy of the party," says University of Sydney China Studies Program Director Kerry Brown. "The legitimacy of the party is the GDP growth, and when they steal significant amounts from the country’s economy they are stealing from that bottom line.”

Brown says Xu oversaw promotions in the military and was in a position where he would be able to trade bribes for a person’s professional advancement. All of the senior officials who have been ousted from the Communist Party and investigated for corruption were rumored to have ties to Zhou Yongkang, a former member of China’s powerful Standing Committee.

“It is an extraordinary thing that he is being treated this way, tactically it may well be a build up to a formal trial of Zhou Yongkang, who he has been associated with and so there is a tactical reason. And if the tactical reason is achieved by him confessing, and then he has already been expelled by the party, and then denounced, and that may be enough," Brown states, "But it may be that the authorities are going through a process according to the rule by law, that gives them some kind of precedent and cover for going for bigger fish such as Mr. Zhou.”

The party leadership on July 29 placed Zhou under investigation for serious violations of discipline; the results of that investigation have not yet been announced.