Xu was a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission
Statement: He took advantage of his position to promote others and take bribes
Xu is the most senior military leader to face corruption charges in recent memory
Was one of four senior members to be expelled from the ruling Communist Party
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China’s military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping’s war on corruption.
Xu Caihou, formerly the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission that runs the two-million strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was also expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and had his rank of general revoked, according to a statement from military prosecutors cited by the state-run Xinhua news agency Wednesday.
The seven-month investigation, which began in March this year, found that Xu took advantage of his position to assist the promotion of other people, accepting huge bribes personally and through his family.
He was also found to have sought profits for others in exchange for bribes taken through his family members. The amount of bribe was “extremely huge”, the statement added.
The allegations against Xu, 71, were announced on June 30 when President Xi presided over a leadership meeting to expel the retired general and three other senior members from the ruling Communist Party.
In a statement released after that meeting, President Xi and other Chinese leaders reiterated their “zero tolerance” for corruption in the government and military – long a lightning rod for mass discontent across the country – but they also acknowledged the anti-graft task would be “ongoing, complex and formidable.”
The three other former senior officials ousted from the Communist Party for corruption were Jiang Jiemin, a former minister in charge of state assets; Li Dongsheng, a former vice minister of public security; and Wang Yongchun, a former deputy head of state-owned oil behemoth China National Petroleum Corporation.
State media characterized Xu as a big “military tiger” caught in the massive anti-graft campaign launched by President Xi, who is also the commander-in-chief. After becoming the head of the Communist Party in late 2012, Xi banned official extravagance – from banquets to year-end gifts – and vowed to target “tigers and flies” alike in his fight against corruption when describing his resolve to spare no one regardless of their position.
Xinhua recently touted the catching of 30 “tigers” since Xi took power less than two years ago.
Some China watchers have noted ties between an increasing number of disgraced officials to Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security czar who has been rumored to be under investigation for some time. Jiang, Li and Wang have long been considered Zhou protégés.
State media has reported official probes into many of Zhou’s family members as well as former associates in the domestic security apparatus, state oil industry and southwestern Sichuan Province – three places Zhou once ruled. If announced, Zhou would become the highest-ranking official ever to face corruption charges in the history of the People’s Republic.
In 2013, some 182,000 officials were disciplined while courts nationwide tried 23,000 corruption cases, according to the Communist Party’s disciplinary commission.
State media has cited the trial and conviction last year of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai – though called politically motivated by Bo supporters – as one prime example of President Xi’s determination to clean up the Party.