February 1, 2012 4:02 pm

Chinese general faces corruption probe

A senior Chinese military officer has been removed from his post and is being investigated for alleged corruption in what insiders see as the fallout of a power struggle in the military ahead of the country’s upcoming leadership transition.

Two military sources confirmed rumours that had been circulating on Chinese online media that Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, deputy head of the General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army, was detained over lunar new year.

“General Liu Yuan is showing that he is serious,” said one source, referring to the political commissar of the General Logistics Department, who had lamented serious corruption in the armed forces and threatened a make-or-break crackdown on it in his department last month.

The PLA has seen many high-profile corruption cases in the past, and the General Logistics Department, with its oversight over much of the military’s real estate and other prized assets, is notorious for offering rich opportunities to “skim off”.

But the current development has attracted attention especially because of Gen Liu’s close ties with Bo Xilai, one of the most high-profile contenders for seats in the new leadership, and to Xi Jinping, the vice-president who is expected to replace Hu Jintao as top leader after a key party congress later this year.

According to aides and other people present at the time, Gen Liu told fellow officers at a meeting last month that corruption in the military had reached a “dangerous level” and that he would fight it “even if it costs me my job”.

If Chinese leadership changes are almost impossible for outsiders to see through, this is even more true of the military. But Gen Liu’s anti-corruption campaign, and similarly high-profile steps such as a belligerent editorial he wrote for a friend’s political book last year, seem to have broken the mould.

That high-profile style mirrors the strategy of Bo Xilai, the party secretary of Chongqing municipality who is seen to have made a claim to one of the nine seats in China’s next top leadership through campaigns against organised crime and corruption.

Gen Liu is a son of Liu Shaoqi, one of the first generation of Chinese Communist leaders, a family background that he shares with Mr Xi and Mr Bo and some of the PLA top brass who are expected to stay on in the military leadership or get promoted into it.

Only four of the 12 current members of the Central Military Commission, the top military leadership institution, are expected to stay on. Gen Liu is expected to gain one of the other seats.

Chinese social media carried several reports and discussions of Lt Gen Gu’s detention last week, but all reports have been deleted. Observers familiar with the military said Lt Gen Gu owned a luxury mansion in Beijing’s Central Business District, which he could not have afforded on his salary and was being accused of speculation with military land.

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