The Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily continued its propaganda war against fallen former general Xu Caihou in a front page editorial on Thursday – saying his corruption case had damaged the reputation of the People’s Liberation Army.
“People like Xu Caihou are a blemish on the army’s image ... It is [essential] to remove the moth and root out corruption,” the article said.
Corrupt officials are sometimes referred to as "moths" by mainland media.
The People's Daily editorial follows the military loudly voicing their loyalty on the front page of the army's official newspaper. The banner headline on Wednesday's PLA Daily said the PLA and the People's Armed Police "stand firmly for" the anti-corruption crackdown and that Xu's expulsion from the Communist Party was the right decision by its top leaders.
Xu, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was expelled from the Communist Party on Monday and is now facing trial for corruption.
The People's Daily comment piece said the investigation into Xu was an important step by the party to tighten its management of the military, which would boost morale and protect its image.
The PLA has built up a good reputation since its establishment and was well known for being clean and disciplined, the newspaper said, adding the army has historically had a close relationship with ordinary citizens.
Yet the PLA “does not exist in a vacuum” from wider society and corruption has harmed the military, the People’s Daily warned.
However, the paper also stressed individual graft cases did not show that the whole army was corrupt. “Expelling Xu shows strong determination to protect the army’s image,” it said.
It is not the first time the People's Daily has run a front-page commentary on the investigation into Xu.
Earlier this week the paper said: "There is no [special administrative region] for corruption and no prohibited zone for the party's anti-graft campaign."
The PLA Daily said officials of all ranks have been asked to read or watch news reports about the investigation, while regional military commands vowed to step up measures to fight corruption.
The powerful Politburo made the long-awaited announcement about the investigation into Xu hours ahead of the Communist Party's 93rd anniversary.
Xu, 71, has been accused of pocketing millions of yuan in bribes and selling military promotions, among other crimes.
He 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.