China’s defense sector and political circles: A web of corruption and disappearances « Khabarhub
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China’s defense sector and political circles: A web of corruption and disappearances


04 July 2024  

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The latest expulsion of two former defense ministers, Li Shangfu and his predecessor Wei Fenghe, from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for “serious violations of party discipline and the law” confirmed the existence of corruption under President Xi Jinping’s government.

The expulsion of these two officials within six months of the expulsion of nine military officials in December 2023 demonstrated that China’s defense sector was rife with corruption.

Expulsion of Defense Ministers

Li Shangfu and Wei Fenghe were expelled from the CCP for “serious violations of party discipline and the law.” Li, who became defense secretary in March of the previous year, vanished from public view in August, sparking widespread speculation about his fate.

His abrupt removal was announced in October, several months after his disappearance.

Similarly, Wei, who preceded Li, was accused of accepting money and gifts in violation of relevant rules. Both were stripped of their titles and qualifications as delegates to the 20th CPC National Congress.

Fu, who had spearheaded several anti-corruption campaigns, pleaded guilty to accepting 14.7 million US dollars in gifts and money for personal gain.

Chinese state media reported that the party’s disciplinary and supervisory agency had launched an investigation into Li in August, finding that he had seriously violated political and organizational discipline.

Li allegedly sought improper benefits in personnel arrangements and accepted a significant amount of money and valuables in return.

These cases were sent to “prosecutorial organs of the military for examination and prosecution,” but little was known about their whereabouts or their responses to the bribery allegations.

Overhaul of Military Leadership

In late December, nine military officials were expelled from the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, as part of a broader anti-corruption drive.

Among those expelled were four generals from the military’s rocket force, responsible for the country’s conventional and nuclear arsenal.

This move threw the strategic missile unit into disarray amid a months-long anti-graft probe that swept up senior leaders at the very top of the military establishment.

The decision to remove rocket force officials Lu Hong, Li Yuchao, Li Chuanguang, and Zhou Yaning coincided with the appointment of new defense minister, Dong Jun, by a presidential decree.

This reshuffle was intended to demonstrate President Xi Jinping’s commitment to eradicating corruption and suspected ineffectiveness within the armed forces. President Xi aimed to transform the military into a “world-class” fighting force by the middle of the century.

Disappearance of Qin Gang

The practice of “disappearing” high-profile figures was not new in China. It had affected the country’s billionaires, corporate titans, security chiefs, actors, scientists, sports stars, and diplomats alike.

This trend reflected the black-box nature of China’s political system, characterized by arbitrary and unaccountable power.

According to Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, much of what was known about these cases was speculation, highlighting the lack of transparency within the Chinese government.

In August 2023, China’s top foreign affairs diplomat, Qin Gang, went missing, bewildering China watchers and leading to unbridled speculation.

As China tried to establish itself as a dominant power in a multipolar world order, its opaque and ruthless political maneuvering raised concerns among global observers.

Qin, who was just seven months into his role as foreign minister, vanished without explanation.

He was last seen in public on June 25 in Beijing. Qin’s disappearance came at a critical time as Washington and Beijing made renewed efforts to stabilize strained relations.

Fu Zhenghua’s Downfall

In September 2022, China’s former justice minister, Fu Zhenghua, was sent to jail in a bribery case.

Fu, who had spearheaded several anti-corruption campaigns, pleaded guilty to accepting 14.7 million US dollars in gifts and money for personal gain.

He was given a death sentence to be commuted to life in prison after two years.

Fu’s conviction came amid a sudden crackdown on officials ahead of a key Communist Party congress, where President Xi Jinping was expected to secure a historic third term and consolidate his hold on power.

Meng Hongwei’s Disappearance

In September 2018, Meng Hongwei, former head of Interpol, vanished on a trip back to China from France.

He was later sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in jail for bribery.

Meng was detained as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive, which critics said was used to silence political rivals. Meng admitted to taking more than two million US dollars in bribes and was expelled from the party and stripped of all government positions.

His wife, currently living in France under political asylum, claimed that charges against him were politically motivated.

Geopolitical Implications

These high-profile cases of corruption and disappearances reflected the broader geopolitical implications of China’s internal politics.

As China tried to establish itself as a dominant power in a multipolar world order, its opaque and ruthless political maneuvering raised concerns among global observers.

The expulsion and punishment of top officials served as a warning to others within the CCP, reinforcing Xi Jinping’s control over the party.

Publish Date : 04 July 2024 10:10 AM

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