The combat effectiveness of the People's Liberation Army will be ruined if military leaders become obsessed with materialism, a hawkish PLA general warned.
"Our country has a dream to be a strong nation, while the army also dreams to be a powerful force … It's an iron rule that valiant warriors come from highly disciplined troops," wrote General Liu Yazhou, a political commissar for the National Defence University, in a commentary on the party mouthpiece the People's Daily yesterday.
"The most challenging thing to an army or a political party is how to keep vigilant in peace time, because corruption and enjoyment would erode our fine working style and revolutionary tradition," Liu wrote, referring to the PLA's honesty and efficiency in their peak in Yanan, Shaanxi under the leadership of Mao Zedong in the 1940s, which helped them win public support and finally defeat the then-ruling Kuomintang to set up the communist regime in 1949.
"For a time … some individual leaders lost their minds and obsessed in a dissipated life, seeking personal profit and other corruption that brought great harm to our army," Liu wrote.
Liu's criticism could be seen as an apparent reference to the disgraced Gu Junshan, a former deputy head of the army's General Logistics Department, who was taken into custody in January and put under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes.
In his article, Liu also highlighted the importance of the anti-corruption drive launched within the army and party in November by President Xi Jinping, who is also party head and chairman of the PLA's top brass, the Central Military Commission.
"Liu's article sends a strong signal to the army that it should continue its massive anti-graft drive, as it indicated that the CMC believed that even the army has lost its fighting spirit," said Ni Lexiong, director of the sea power and defence policy research institute at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
"Xi has called the army to meet the goal of 'being prepared for real combat and for victory' because he wanted to use a big vision such as that to rebuild the PLA's morality and soul."
He said that immoral spirits would not only ruin an army, but also cause a political regime to collapse.