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Top Chinese Military Official Accused of Amassing Illegal Wealth

  • VOA News

FILE - A golden bust of the late Chairman Mao Zedong.

FILE - A golden bust of the late Chairman Mao Zedong.

Chinese media are reporting on a rare publicized case of corruption in the army leadership. A Chinese general in charge of army logistics allegedly abused his power to amass dozens of homes, gold statues and expensive wine.

The excesses of Lieutenant General Gu Junshan were uncovered by Caixin, a prominent magazine famous for its investigative reporting and extensive coverage of China's corruption scandals.

The magazine reported that Gu's home in Puyang, a grey courtyard compound modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, was raided over a year ago. Police filled four trucks with Gu's expensive possessions, including a golden boat, a golden basin and a golden statue of Mao.

Residents of the village told Caixin that investigators spent two days seizing property from the residence, known in the village as the “General's Mansion,” but would only load trucks at night to avoid creating “dissatisfaction among the villagers.”

According to the expose', Gu's brother lived in a house next door, and the two properties were connected through a 30-meter-long basement packed with “crates” of expensive Chinese wine.

Chinese leaders have publicized their ongoing anti-graft efforts as a serious step at stemming corruption and have said they will intensify the campaign in 2014.

But the details of Gu's wealth show that corruption in China can stretch beyond people's imagination, says Beijing University anti-corruption professor He Bing.

He said the timing of the report in the first few weeks of the new year sends a powerful message.

“The anti-graft effort has no forbidden spots,” he said, “A new year has started with Xi Jinping's pronouncements against corruption, and this report is a symbolic sign of that resolution.”

Chinese leaders devoted numerous speeches and resources to fighting corruption last year. According to the country's top anti-graft body, such efforts were effective and led to the investigation and punishment of more than 182,000 party officials in 2013 for various extents of abuse of power.

According to Caixin, Gu took advantage of his position as the manager of military real estate deals and building projects to benefit himself and other members of his family.

Dozens of apartments Gu owned in central Beijing were destined to be given out as gifts, Caixin reported.

Gu's alleged illegal wealth touches an especially sensitive nerve, given that he had made a career within the prestigious People's Liberation Army.

On Friday, the Communist Party-controlled Global Times said in an editorial that Gu Junshan should be severely investigated.

“The circumstances of the investigation should be disclosed and clarified to the public and the media,” the editorial read, ”Government corruption is an illness, but corruption within the armed forces is a danger.”

So far, Gu has not been officially indicted, but rumors abound.

As early as 2012, his name was removed from the website of the Ministry of Defense. In January 2013 came the house search detailed in Caixin's report, and a few months later a professor at the PLA National Defence University told state media that Gu was involved in a corruption case.

The lack of an official statement by the party's disciplinary commission, which usually notifies the media after cadres are put under investigation, has led some to believe that Gu's case might go beyond his personal abuses of power.

“Behind Gu Junshan there might be an even bigger tiger - or corrupt official,” wrote blogger Zhou Pengan. “Even if they are pursuing bigger cases, the anti-corruption body should not let a case drag on so long without resolution.”

He Bing said that it is unclear why it's taking so long for authorities to announce the investigation, but he adds that with the media attention around the scandal it should not take long before Gu is officially indicted.

“The anti-graft effort has no forbidden spots. A new year has started with Xi Jinping's pronouncements against corruption, and this report is a symbolic sign of that resolution,” He Bing stated.

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