China's military deploys its first corruption inspectors

By Reuters/Ben Blanchard   May 4, 2016 | 08:22 pm PT
China's military deploys its first corruption inspectors
China's then Central Military Commission former Vice Chairman General Guo Boxiong stands at attention during the playing of the national anthem before a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington in this July 18, 2006 file photo. China on April 5, 2016 accused Guo, one of its former top military officers of taking : REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
China's military has for the first time sent dedicated teams of corruption inspectors into its units, state media said on Thursday, following a practice already established for civilian departments as part of President Xi Jinping's war on graft.

Previously, corruption investigations in the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest armed forces, were handled in a more ad hoc fashion. But under reforms started last year the military now has a dedicated graft-fighting division.

Xi has led a sweeping anti-corruption campaign targeting high-ranking officials in industry, government, and the military.

The military is reeling from the crackdown and has seen dozens of officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the powerful Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou.

Xu died of cancer last year before he could be bought to trial while Guo was accused of accepting bribes last month.

The official Xinhua news agency said the new graft inspectors completed two days of training on Wednesday and had been organised into 10 teams who would go to various units around the country. It did not say which units would get inspectors.

Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the military and which the president heads, told the inspectors they were fulfilling an important role in cleaning up and strengthening the armed forces, Xinhua said.

"Keep firmly in mind the expectations and great trust of Chairman Xi," the news agency paraphrased Xu as saying.

The move coincides with broader efforts to reform the military, including the modernisation of its command structure, as China becomes more assertive in its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

China is also investing heavily in new technology, including aircraft carriers, stealth jets and anti-satellite missiles, though it has not fought a war in decades.

Serving and retired officers have warned that corruption in the military could threaten the ability to wage war. 

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