The announcement of several high-profile corruption cases this week ahead of the 93rd anniversary of the Communist Party, including the investigation into retired top general Xu Caihou, is a strong message from President Xi Jinping that fighting graft is crucial to the survival of the organisation, military analysts said.
Despite the fact that many top generals were promoted by Xu, observers said the president was unlikely to launch a major reshuffle in the PLA, at least for now.
The government announced details of the graft investigations on Monday, the day before the party's anniversary.
Xu Guangyu, a Beijing-based retired major general, said the expulsion of Xu Caihou from the party, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, showed Xi had mustered strong backing and personal prestige in the military.
The announcement indicated the party would "take practical action to fight corruption", he said.
Xu Caihou is the most senior military official to be brought down in Xi's anti-corruption drive.
Xu was in charge of managing high-level personnel in the army from 2004 to 2013, with most incumbent senior officials promoted by him.
However, his downfall does not mean the PLA leadership will undergo a major reshuffle, two independent sources from the army told the South China Morning Post.
"Xu's biggest mistake was using his power to arrange for his men to fill seats in the Central Military Commission leadership before Xi became its chairman in December 2012," one of the sources, a retired PLA officer, said. "That made Xi very unhappy. [But] Xi will not rashly make any personnel changes in the commission yet as he needs more time to boost the army's morale as a way to win trust."
The president will use Xu's case as a warning rather than purging officers from the senior ranks and will offer the retired general's former supporters the chance to change their allegiance, another PLA source said.
Xu's case has been handed to military prosecutors, hinting it will be a closed-door trial.
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