PLA Air Force demotes 190 senior pilots amid clean-up campaign

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 February, 2014, 7:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 February, 2014, 7:58pm

The PLA Air Force has disqualified more than 190 senior pilots from the posts as leaders and coaches, although they can still fly the warplanes, state media said on Friday.

China National Radio reported that about 190 pilots, who had been under scrutiny as part of the military’s recent anti-corruption campaign, had been demoted.

The campaign was introduced by President Xi Jinping last year, who is also chairman of the PLA’s top brass – the Central Military Commission.

The demotions were based on the assessment of an officer’s skills and their personal life.

The PLA launched the campaign to rectify “unhealthy tendencies” in the military early last year, and to clean up any misuse of army assets among the rank-and-file soldiers. About 27,000 apartments or houses were found to be wrongly allocated to officers and some 29,000 vehicles deemed unnecessary were decommissioned.

All of the pilots were holding positions as flight commanders, flying instructors or flight leaders before they were demoted, according to the CNR report.

Retired PLA Major General Yue Xicui, who was a pilot in the air force, said the demoted pilots still qualified for flying duty, but “couldn’t take any leading role in commanding and directing other pilots and flights.”

“The air force has introduced different scales of flying assessment for pilots, flying instructors and other officers who take care of important jobs for many years to make sure all flights are safe,” she said.

But Beijing-based retired PLA Major General Xu Guangyu said that it was a rare move for the air force to announce the demotion of senior pilots and flight commanders.

“I think the air force wants to show the outside world that they are determined to implement the anti-corruption campaign as President Xi has repeatedly pushed the army to eliminate lavish lifestyles and nepotism by any means,” he said.

Xinhua on Friday said Xi had given a new instruction to the army in recent days, ordering the PLA and armed police to launch another round of campaigns to combat graft.