PLA continues battle cries supporting graft crackdown after Xu Caihou's downfall
Senior officers make a public show of support for the president after the graft investigation is announced into a former top general
The military has further closed ranks and rallied behind President Xi Jinping and his anti-corruption campaign, loudly voicing their loyalty on the front page of the army's official newspaper after the fall of retired general Xu Caihou.
The nation's top military institutions and all seven regional military commands pledged support for the anti-graft investigation into Xu and swore absolute allegiance to the president - who is also their commander-in-chief as head of the Central Military Commission - in a front-page article published in yesterday's PLA Daily.
The banner headline said the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police "stand firmly for" the crackdown and that Xu's expulsion from the Communist Party was the right decision by its top leaders.
PLA officials of all ranks were asked to read or watch news reports about the investigation, while regional military commands vowed to step up measures to fight corruption, the newspaper said.
The pledges were a show of loyalty but also of self-preservation amid the sweeping anti-graft probe in the military, according to the Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan.
"The announcement of Xu's case served as a warning to the military not to take any actions [against the anti-graft campaign]," Zhang said.
Xu, 71, will be the most senior military figure to stand trial for corruption since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The party mouthpiece the People's Daily also ran a front-page commentary on the investigation into Xu.
"There is no [special administrative region] for corruption and no prohibited zone for the party's anti-graft campaign," it said. The powerful Politburo made the long-awaited announcement about the investigation into Xu hours ahead of the Communist Party's 93rd anniversary.
Xu, the former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, was accused of pocketing millions of yuan in bribes and selling military promotions, among other crimes.
His fall has prompted renewed speculation that the campaign against corrupt officials would also snare former military and state leaders, along with their supporters, including the former national security chief Zhou Yongkang.
Zhou oversaw the People's Armed Police, which also vowed to support Xi's anti-graft campaign.
A senior official from the PLA Second Artillery Force said soldiers would "implement political directives" to be "absolutely loyal, pure and reliable", according to the military newspaper.
Securing the loyalty of the military was Xi's most pressing concern, according to political analyst Zhang.
"He has visited various troop units over ten times since taking office," he said.
"It's clear he has learned a lesson from some of his predecessors who failed to seize full control over the military [when they first took office]."
Additional reporting by Keira Lu Huang