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China’s graft push snares senior target

June 30: In the most far-reaching public move so far in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s drive against corruption, the Communist Party leadership today expelled a retired military commander from the party and handed him over for a crime investigation on charges of taking massive bribes in return for military promotions.

The announcement followed months of speculation that party investigators had closed in on retired Gen. Xu Caihou, who until his retirement in late 2012 occupied one of the highest posts in the People’s Liberation Army, as a vice chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, which oversees the military.

Now Gen. Xu, who was also a member of the elite Politburo, has been made the most senior official so far to be caught publicly in Xi’s effort to clean up the image of the party elite, tarnished by the impression shared by many Chinese citizens of widespread corruption and brazen self-enrichment, including in the military.

A meeting of the Politburo, made up of 25 senior officials, decided to expel Gen. Xu from the party and hand him over to prosecutors for investigation after hearing the results of a secretive inquiry started in March, Xinhua, the state-run news agency reported.

“The investigation found Xu Caihou used his office to provide help for others in promotions, and accepted bribes directly or through his family,” said Xinhua, citing the report presented to the party leaders.

“He exploited the influence of his office to bring gain to others, and his family accept wealth and property from others, gravely violating party discipline and bringing suspicion of the crime of accepting bribes. The circumstances were grave and the effects were malignant.”

Nor was Gen. Xu the only former senior official targeted by the meeting. Xinhua announced that the Politburo also expelled from the party Li Dongsheng, a former vice- minister of public security, who party investigators found took massive bribes, as well as two former executives of a state oil conglomerate, Jiang Jiemin and Wang Yongchun, who were accused of similar misdeeds.

Since assuming leadership of the party in November 2012, Xi has promised to punish graft among senior officials “tigers”, as he has called them. But so far so figures as powerful as Gen. Xu have been publicly singled out under Xi.

 
 
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