A top general and former ally of disgraced security tsar Zhou Yongkang has been arrested for violating Communist Party discipline, a euphemism for corruption, sources told the South China Morning Post.
General Wang Jianping, 62, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department under the powerful Central Military Commission, was taken away in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Thursday afternoon, one of the sources said.
Wang’s wife; secretary; and former secretary, Su Haihui, now deputy director of the armed police’s training department; were also held. “Wang was arrested by military prosecutors in Chengdu while on an inspection trip. His wife and secretary were taken away in Beijing on Thursday,” the source said.
Wang is the first general still in active military service to be brought down since President Xi Jinping launched his massive crackdown against deep-rooted corruption in the military in 2013.
He is the second top general to be arrested for corruption in recent weeks. The first was General Tian Xiusi, a former political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and a member of the party’s elite Central Committee.
Tian, 66, was detained by military graft-busters and put under an internal investigation last month. While he holds the rank of general, Tian had already retired from the army when he was taken away.
Wang was promoted to commander of the some 1.2 million strong People’s Armed Police (PAP) in late 2009, after spending more than 15 years in the armed police force.
As top leaders of the armed police from 2009 to 2014, Wang and political ally General Xu Yaoyuan reported directly to then security chief Zhou.
Zhou was arrested on graft charges in 2013 and sentenced to life in jail in June last year. He was the most senior official to receive such a heavy sentence since the Cultural Revolution.
To the surprise of many, Wang was transferred to the former General Staff Headquarters as a deputy chief, while Xu, who was the political commissar of the PAP, became the Academy of Military Sciences’ political commissar in December 2014.
It is rare for both the commander and political commissar of the same force at such a high level to be transferred at the same time. It is not known if Xu is under investigation.
“The key reason behind such an arrangement [Wang’s and Xu’s transfers] is to separate them from their power base in the PAP,” a second source said.
Guo and Xu Caihou, two former CMC vice-chairmen, were the most senior military officials to be hit by Xi’s far-reaching anti-corruption campaign.
Xu Caihou was accused of taking kickbacks in exchange for handing out promotions, but he died last year of cancer and never stood trial. Guo was jailed for life last month, making him the most senior PLA figure convicted of corruption since 1949.
The vacancy left by Wang was taken over by then deputy Chief of General Staff General Wang Ning, one of Xi’s closest military allies.
Both Xi and Wang Ning worked in Fujian for years before Xi left for the top job in neighbouring Zhejiang province in 2002.
A third source said rumours of an investigation into Wang Jianping and Xu Yaoyuan began after Zhou came under a corruption cloud.
That speculation increased after both men were transferred.
Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk