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Chinese military’s anti-graft drive targets mid-level officers to root out disgraced leaders’ influence

The top brass of the People’s Liberation Army has expanded its anti-graft targets to include mid-level officers to root out the harmful influence of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, the disgraced former top leaders of the army.

All party chiefs from PLA departments, and units under the powerful Central Military Commission held a study meeting on Monday to come up with measures to eliminate all adverse effects of Guo and Xu’s leadership, in the aftermath of their downfall, according to a report published by the PLA Daily’s social media.

‘Political mistakes’, more than graft, led to downfall of Chinese military chiefs Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou

Battalion level units and above have party committee divisions, indicating the army’s anti-graft campaign has expanded from major general or above to middle ranks that may include major or lieutenant colonel cadets, according to a retired senior colonel who requested anonymity.

“The meeting aims at giving a warning and urging party committee heads to be careful of any harmful influence left by Guo and Xu’s adherents,” the senior colonel told the South China Morning Post.

“The CMC also ordered all military books containing Guo and Xu’s speeches, words or pictures should be destroyed.”

Monday’s meeting was chaired by the two incumbent CMC vice-chairmen, Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang, and attended by eight CMC members, including defence minister Chang Wanquan, the PLA Daily’s Weibo account reported.

Former top PLA general Guo Boxiong jailed for life over graft

Both Guo and Xu were accused of abusing their power to help in the promotion and reassignment of senior military officials by taking “extremely huge” bribes during their more than decade-long terms as CMC vice-chairmen.

Guo, 74, was sentenced to life imprisonment in July and Xu died of cancer last year aged 72 while in custody and under investigation for graft.

At least 100 major generals or higher ranked senior officers have been probed for involvement in “buying and selling military ranks”.

Chinese graft-busters take aim at another PLA general

“I was told to give 1 million yuan more than 10 years ago to get promoted to a major general, but I refused because I didn’t have that much money,” the retired senior colonel said.

“Other officers who managed to pay Guo and Xu would then spare no effort to make money, like Gu Junshan.”

Gu, a lieutenant general and former deputy head of the PLA’s former general logistics department, was charged with crimes including bribery and embezzlement in March 2014. The investigation of Gu’s dealings led to the downfall of Xu and Guo.

As the CMC leaders are busy dealing with the fallout of Guo and Xu’s harmful influence, this year’s Xiangshan Forum, which aspires to be Asia’s “new security architecture” similar to the Shangri-la Dialogue summit in Singapore, is less high profile than last year, according to several sources close to the organisers.

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Last year, CMC vice-chairman Fang, who is also a Communist Party Politburo member, delivered a speech at the first plenary section, but this year’s speech was delivered by the defence minister.

About 400 domestic and foreign defence officials and security experts from 64 countries are attending the Xiangshan Forum. Last year, there were 600 attendees, organisers said.