Communist Party expels two former senior military officials over alleged graft

Fan Changmi was previously the political commissar for the Lanzhou Military Area Command, while Niu Zhizhong was formerly a deputy commander of the People’s Armed Police

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:36pm

Two former senior military officers have been expelled from the Communist Party for alleged ­corruption, according to state-run Xinhua.

In a statement released late on Thursday at the end of the Central Committee’s sixth plenum in Beijing, the party said Fan Changmi, former deputy political commissar of the Lanzhou Military Area Command, and Niu Zhizhong, a former deputy commander of the People’s Armed Police, were expelled over “serious discipline violations”, usually a euphemism for graft.

It said the men had been under investigation by the Central Military Commission, which oversees the armed forces.

It was the first time Niu has been confirmed as being under investigation for corruption, according to mainland media.

In January last year, the People’s Liberation Army announced that Fan was among 16 officers under investigation for graft.

The decision underscores an ongoing purge in the military by President Xi Jinping, who also chairs the commission.

Since Xi took office four years ago, two former vice-chairmen of the commission have come under investigation – Xu Caihou, who died last year, and Guo Boxiong.

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Dozens of top brass in the armed forces have also been sacked or disciplined as Xi has tightened his grip on the military.

The plenum also confirmed the expulsion of Wang Min, Liaoning province’s former party boss, and Lu Xiwen, former deputy party chief of Beijing.

The Central Committee vacancies created by Wang’s downfall and the death of Chen Zhirong, Hainan’s former top law enforcer, were filled by veteran weapons expert Zhao Xian­geng, and Xian Hui, chairwoman of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, who were promoted to full members.

Also missing from footage of the meeting aired on Thursday’s main CCTV news programme was Wang Jianping, a top general and former ally of disgraced security tsar Zhou Yongkang.

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The South China Morning Post reported in August that Wang, deputy chief of the CMC’s Joint Staff Department, had been taken away as part of a corruption probe. Wang was promoted to commander of the 1.2 million-strong PAP in late 2009, after more than 15 years in the armed police force.

As top leaders of the armed police from 2009 to 2014, Wang and political ally General Xu Yaoyuan reported directly to then security chief Zhou.

Niu, a deputy to Wang, also had close ties with Zhou.

Zhou was arrested on corruption charges in 2013 and sentenced to life in jail in June last year. He was the most senior official to receive such a heavy sentence since the Cultural Revolution.