Beijing denies former senior military officer Fan Changlong under investigation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 6:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 10:10pm

China’s defence ministry on Thursday denied that former senior military officer Fan Changlong was being investigated on suspicion of corruption, pointing to a recent article in the military’s official newspaper in which his name was mentioned.

Hong Kong media reported earlier this month that Fan, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission which President Xi Jinping heads and which runs the country’s armed forces, was being investigated.

Asked whether Fan was indeed being investigated, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian referred reporters to a January 18 article in the People’s Liberation Army Daily about soldiers’ training, in which Fan was cited as talking about the importance of drills.

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“As for this rumour, I suggest you read the article in the January 18 edition of the People’s Liberation Army Daily, ‘On using the fervour of troop training to answer the question of winning in battle’,” Wu told a monthly news briefing, without elaborating.

Pictures of Fan, looking relaxed in civilian clothes and writing calligraphy, also appeared on Chinese social media this week in an article about his post-retirement life.

Pictures of officials rumoured to be in trouble are often leaked online as a way of denying anything untoward has happened to them in China.

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The defence ministry has previously either declined to answer questions on officers suspected of corruption before the probes are actually announced, or said they do not know anything about the subject.

Fan was on the Central Military Commission until last October when he stepped down as part of a sweeping leadership reshuffle at a once-every-five-years Communist Party congress.