Corruption weakens Chinese military’s combat effectiveness


News analysis

Corruption is a widespread phenomenon in the Chinese military, where officers, including generals, do not rely on length of service or military prowess to rise through the ranks, but rather on corruption and connections, according to analysts.

Experts have pointed out that a lack of capable leaders now threatens to seriously damage China’s combat capabilities.

In the Chinese military, all positions and ranks have been sold with quoted prices, state media Xinhua quoted three top generals from the Academy of Military Sciences as saying on March 10, 2015.

“A military district commander bribed Xu Caihou [then vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC)] 20 million yuan [$3.14 million] for a higher position. Xu then promoted this one, rather than another commander who just bribed him 10 million yuan [$1.57 million]», Major General Yang Chunchang said.

Xu Caihou (R), former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, talks to former Politburo member Bo Xilai during the opening session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5 2012. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Chinese army, there is only one general who has real combat experience. General Li Zuocheng, 68, served in the Vietnam War in 1979 as the director of a company made up of around 100 soldiers. Li is the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the CMC.

“They bought their positions. They won’t spend their lives fighting,” Zhou Meisen, screenwriter of the anti-corruption propaganda TV series “In the Name of the People,” told the regime’s spokesperson People’s Daily on April 6, 2017. time there is a war, who can fight? Who will sacrifice his life to defend the country?

“A general can still lead the army when he has no combat experience. He can learn from military books and drills,” Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based China affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times on Dec. 17. ability to command the army to fight in a war.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese military delegates arrive at the Great Hall of the People ahead of the third plenary session of China’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing on March 12, 2015. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Tang went on to say that as a result, Chinese officers and soldiers will not focus on improving their skills, knowing that they have to buy the position and ranks they hope to achieve.

“Fighting is not a game,” Tang said. “Once there is a war, these officers and soldiers can no longer fight.”

weakened fighter

Cases of sacked generals have become common under Xi’s regime.

On April 29, the Chinese regime announcement that Major General Song Xue, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Navy, was suspected of a “serious violation of discipline and the law”. He was dismissed from his post on April 8.

Song was the Chinese leader in rebuilding and training the personnel of its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning. Overseas Chinese commentators say Song was embroiled in corruption in the Liaoning project and was punished because the aircraft carrier lacks the combat effectiveness that an aircraft carrier is supposed to have.

On April 26, the Liaoning Carrier Strike Group, which has three Chinese destroyers, a frigate and a supply ship that sail with Liaoning, was unable to prevent a United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer from entering the middle. of their training as they sailed through the Philippine Sea.

Epoch Times Photo
China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning (C) takes part in a military exercise in the South China Sea on January 2, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Chinese army has become a puddle of mud, with no combat effectiveness,” Luo Yu, son of former Chinese revolutionary general Lou Ruiqing, Told The Epoch Times November 14, 2017. “No Chinese official or officer is involved in corruption, it is a systematic problem.

“There is no way to stop corruption in the Chinese military.”

In his remarks, Zhou cited an example of officers actively embezzling military funds.

“During a military exercise, they [officers] sold the vehicles and the gasoline,” he said. “They then reported that the vehicles had been destroyed during the exercise and the gas had been used. The extra funds then go into the pockets of the officers.

In another example, Zhou noted that during a military exercise, “the soldiers only fired 10 guns during the exercise, but they reported that 100 guns were used.”

“The corruption is too serious to describe,” he said. “To use their [the officers’] words, [the military] is all black from surface to inside.

On August 18,, headquartered in Beijing reported from Beijing that General Zhang Yang, who allegedly committed suicide, was nicknamed “Gunny Sack Zhang” because he used to put money in burlap sacks and use them to bribe senior officers or receive bribes from junior officers. Zhang had given each of the then CMC vice presidents, General Guo Boxiong and Caihou, 25 million yuan ($3.9 million) in cash all at once.

“Only a few generals died on the battlefields when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its first war, the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927, ending in the Korean War. [which ended in a truce on July 27, 1953]”, Zhou told People’s Daily in 2017. “Now, an anti-corruption campaign has sacked more than 140 generals.”

Corruption and replacement

Fighting corruption was Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s main task after he took over as CMC chairman in 2012. Xi, China’s top military commander, used an anti-corruption campaign to fire generals who lacked loyalty and to promote new generals who supported him.

June 16, 2018, reported that Xi’s attempts to reform China’s military were meeting with resistance.

“At present, the anti-corruption situation in the military is still serious and complex,” the state-run newspaper People’s Liberation Army Daily said. published on April 13, 2020. “The problem of violation of rules and violation of disciplines occurs frequently.”

On August 28, 2017, General Zhang Yang, former director of the CMC Political Work Department, and General Fang Fenghui, former Joint Chief of Staff, were investigation for corruption and breaches of discipline.

Three months later, on November 25, Zhang committed suicide. In October 2018, the CCP posthumously withdrew Zhang from the CMC and the Communist Party, stripped him of his rank, and confiscated his property. Xinhua reported that Zhang possessed very large and unexplained wealth and that his level of corruption was very high.

Fang was sentenced to life in prison by a Chinese military court on February 20, 2019, for crimes of corruption and possession of huge amounts of property from unknown sources.

Epoch Times Photo
Henan residence of General Gu Junshan’s former military logistics in Puyang, Henan province, China, January 17, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Chinese military has five theater commands, each covering a region. Along with these, there are ground forces, air force, navy, rocket force, strategic support force, joint support force, and armed police force. Troops are directed by both theater commands and forces. In addition, the People’s Liberation Army has 25 provincial military districts and three garrisons that report directly to the CMC.

On September 6, Xi promoted five lieutenant generals to generals, as well as senior command posts. The five included Western Theater Command Commander Wang Haijiang, Central Theater Command Commander Lin Xiangyang, Navy Commander Dong Jun, Air Force Commander Chang Dingqiu and University Principal. National Defense Force Xu Xueqiang.

Two months earlier, on July 5, Xi promoted four more lieutenant generals to generals. They were Commander of the Western Theater Command Xu Lingqi, Commander of the Southern Theater Command Wang Xiubin, Commander of the Ground Force Liu Zhenli and Commander of the Strategic Support Force Ju Qiansheng.

Xi has changed the commander of Western Theater Command four times in nine months. In December 2020, Commander Zhao Zongqi retired. Xi promoted Zhang Xudong, then deputy commander of the Theater Central Command, to take over. In June, Zhang was fired due to illness. Xu took over the position and was replaced in September by Wang. It is unknown why Xi fired Xu and where Xu is.

“Xi Jinping hasn’t built an army loyal to him,” said Wang Youqun, a Chinese-language columnist for The Epoch Times. wrote September 8. “Xi has promoted more than 60 generals since he took over as CMC chairman. These generals control the CMC, five theater commands, seven forces, and military universities. However, not all of these newly appointed commanders are loyal to him, and that is why he kept appointing new commanders.

wang too wrote that Xi named corruption as the reason for the removal of generals who are not loyal to him because the majority of generals are involved in bribery, abuse of power, extortion, fraud, collusion and embezzlement funds.

Nicole Hao


Nicole Hao is a Washington-based journalist specializing in China-related topics. Prior to joining Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway company in Paris, France.


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