China's top military body has ordered thousands of senior officers to report their assets, in a move military analysts describe as a 'groundbreaking' step in the fight against corruption in the armed forces.
After approval by the Central Military Commission (CMC), the People's Liberation Army's top decision-making body, the PLA's General Political Department and its disciplinary watchdog jointly issued an amendment to an asset-reporting regulation demanding that senior military officers register and report their income, property assets and investments to higher supervisory bodies, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported yesterday.
The report said the move had been initiated by commission chairman Hu Jintao , also state president, saying the new measure was consistent with graft-busting efforts championed by Hu.
The PLA, and especially its top and mid-level leadership, has long been plagued by corruption scandals which have tarnished the military's image at home and abroad.
Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, 56, was sacked as deputy chief of the PLA's General Logistics Department in January and placed under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes.
General Liu Yuan, the political commissar of the General Logistics Department, is widely believed to be one of those behind Gu's downfall. In December, one of Liu's close friends, agricultural researcher Zhang Musheng, said in a speech that a lieutenant general from Shanxi had bought a plot of land in the heart of Shanghai for 20 million yuan (HK$24.6 million) a mu (667 square metres) and resold it to a businessman for 2 billion yuan a mu.
Macau-based International Military Association president Antony Wong Dong said the amendment was a 'long-awaited and groundbreaking' measure to combat blatant and widespread corruption among senior PLA officers.
Wong said Hu had chosen the right time to start his campaign within the army because of rising public anger at corruption, particularly since the downfall of disgraced former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and his former right-hand man Wang Lijun , the municipality's former police chief.
'Of course, Hu may also want to make use of the chance to eradicate the influence of former CMC chairman Jiang Zemin's allies in the military and pave a smooth path for his successor Xi Jinping ,' Wong said. Xi is generally expected to replace Hu as the party's general secretary after the 18th national congress later this year.
But Wong added that there was likely to be an extraordinary amount of resistance to the anti-corruption push among senior military officers.