PLA launches anti-graft campaign

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 August, 2006, 12:00am

Teams are told to clamp down on commercial bribery among senior officers

Graft fighters in the People's Liberation Army have launched a campaign against commercial bribery among senior military officers following a corruption scandal involving a top navy commander, state media reported yesterday.

Quoting a PLA inspector, the People's Daily said commercial bribery and other economic crimes had increased among senior military officers in recent years as military spending expanded.

Listed as the main task in the next two years, the campaign would target high-level officers involved in the tendering and procurement of military equipment, construction and telecommunications materials, and medical supplies.

'The armed forces have confronted the temptation and erosion of commercial bribery amid growing business activities [involving civilian enterprises],' the inspector said. 'Clamping down on commercial bribery [in the military] is a complicated and arduous task.'

A co-ordination mechanism was set up recently among the PLA's four general departments - general staff, general political, general armaments and general logistics - to step up supervision and anti-corruption controls, according to the newspaper report.

The announcement of the campaign followed the sacking of Wang Shouye , deputy commander of China's navy, and a recent warning by President Hu Jintao that widespread corruption was threatening the ruling party's survival.

Vice-Admiral Wang, 63, was sacked earlier this year for 'living a decadent life' and his involvement in financial scandals.

His case came to the top military leadership's attention after he was allegedly reported by one of his five mistresses last year. He reportedly embezzled and misappropriated at least 160 million yuan of military funds.

The armed forces have long been plagued by corruption scandals despite regular crackdowns and anti-graft campaigns.

Amid growing public discontent over the financial workings of the secretive military, the PLA has started an ambitious audit campaign to cover more than 4,000 senior officers - including at least 100 generals - over the next five years.

The military set up a leading group, headed by General Liao Xilong , director of the PLA's general logistics department, to supervise the auditing campaign last month.

Vice-Admiral Wang's fall was said to be a result of the audits, which targeted 983 officers this year with the rank of division commander or above, including 26 generals.

According to statistics from the military auditors, more than 5 per cent of the thousands of officers audited in 2004 had 'economic problems'.

The country's defence budget for this year stands at 283.8 billion yuan, a 14.7 per cent rise from last year.