Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign brings down another top Chinese general

Fan Changlong is the third vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission arrested for bribery in less than 4 years

Fan Changlong, File Photo, 2014

Fan Changlong, File Photo, 2014 (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The anti-graft and corruption campaign carried out under Xi Jinping among top party and PLA officials has reportedly led to the arrest of another major military figure on charges of graft.

Chinese language media began reporting on Sunday Jan. 14 that the recently retired, former vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), Fan Changlong (范長龍) had been arrested.

The arrest and probe of the prominent PLA general appears to follow the trend of his predecessor’s arrest and fall from power three years previous. Fan Changlong was the protégé of Xu Caihou (徐才厚), who was put under investigation for bribery and “cash for rank” schemes in 2014.

The same year, a colleague of the same rank as Xu, Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄) was also arrested, and later stripped of his rank and sentenced to life in prison.

Xu Caihou died of bladder cancer in 2016 under supervision of party authorities. Before his fall from power and public disgrace, Xu had declared Fan his successor shortly before the anti-corruption probe began, and just after the 18th party congress in 2012.

Xu Caihou and US Def. Secretary Robert Gates, Oct. 2009 (Wikimedia Commons Image)

Since the alleged corruption of Guo and Xu was brought to light, the phrase “Eliminate Guo, and flush out the poison of Xu” (肅清郭, 徐流毒) has become a slogan for rooting out corruption in the PLA. The PLA has referred to the former general Xu as having lived a “pathetic and shameful” life.

Despite Fan Changlong’s best efforts to ingratiate himself to Xi Jinping following his appointment as the CMC vice chairman, and what first appeared to be a successful retirement from his post, it seems his number is up.

As recent as November of last year, following the 19th Party Congress, two other top PLA generals (Zhang Yang, and Fan Feng-hui) were also ensnared in an anti-corruption case that was ostensibly related Xu Caihou’s criminal investigation.

It appears that despite the death of Xu Caihou in 2016, enough of his influence lingered in his highest ranking protégés to merit further investigations into his corrupting influence throughout the Chinese armed forces.

Watchful observers in publications like the Diplomat, make it clear that many investigations and arrests framed under the pretense of “fighting corruption” are often political purges resulting from factionalism within the Chinese Communist Party.

The seemingly regular purge of top PLA officials under the recurring charge of graft certainly calls into question the solidarity of the PLA leadership and President Xi Jinping.