DEFENCE
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Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

Senior PLA Navy officer leaps to his death from Beijing block, source says

Second such death of a high-ranking PLA Navy officer in three months comes amid graft purge

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 November, 2014, 6:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 2014, 7:16pm

The deputy commissar of the PLA Navy, Vice Admiral Ma Faxiang, is believed to have committed suicide less than three months after another senior naval officer fell to his death, people close to the armed forces branch said.

Ma leapt from a building at a naval complex in Beijing on Thursday, a source told the Sunday Morning Post yesterday.

Rear Admiral Jiang Zhonghua of the navy's South Sea Fleet armaments department, plunged to his death from a hotel building in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province on September 2, the source added.

"Both Ma and Jiang's deaths are true. Those in the naval circle all know about it," said a former naval official based in Beijing, who asked to remain anonymous. "But none of them can discuss anything about the reasons behind those deaths. You know what I mean?"

The ranks of vice admiral and rear admiral are the second- and third-highest in the PLA Navy and correspond with the same ranks in the US and British navies. Political commissars are in charge of ideological matters and education in the branches of the People's Liberation Army.

Ma was promoted to rear admiral in 2005, a year after he was assigned as political commissar of the navy's armament department. He was promoted to vice admiral on August 1, 2012, the eve of the anniversary of the PLA's founding. In July, he was elevated to deputy political commissar of the navy.

Another independent source said the news of Ma's death had spread across the navy's complex in Gongzhufen, on Beijing's west side, adding it was yet another "big scandal" for the navy following the downfall of former deputy commander Wang Shouye.

Wang was given a suspended death sentence in April 2007 for embezzling 160 million yuan of public funds.

Ma made his last public appearance on October 22 when he greeted the 17th escort taskforce of the PLA Navy on its return from the Gulf of Aden to Zhoushan, its home port.

"However, compared with the biggest tiger Xu Caihou, the cases of Ma, Jiang and even Wang are nothing," the retired naval official said.

Xu, 71, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, is the latest senior military figure implicated in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft drive launched after he took control of the Communist Party and military in 2012.