Military casualties: top Chinese officers to die since the launch of Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive
General Zhang Yang, a former head of the powerful Central Military Commission’s (CMC) political work department, committed suicide last week while under investigated for corruption, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday. Zhang was one of the highest ranked military chiefs to die under a cloud since Chinese President Xi Jinping launched his anti-graft campaign after taking office in November 2012. Other prominent serving and former members of the military to die in the last five years include:
A CMC vice-chairman under former president Hu Jintao, Xu retired from the military in 2012. He came under investigation for corruption in March 2014 and was expelled from the Communist Party in June 2014. About a year into the investigation, Xu died in hospital of advanced bladder cancer, Xinhua reported in March 2015. He was accused of taking “huge amounts of bribes personally and through his family”, abusing his position to promote favoured candidates. According to Chinese media, it took a week to catalogue all the cash, jewels and antiques amassed in Xu’s Beijing home, and 12 trucks to remove the haul.
Vice-admiral Ma Faxiang was the second-highest ranking member of the People’s Liberation Army Navy when he jumped to his death from a military building in Beijing in November 2014. At the time he was the navy’s deputy commissar, a position that put him in charge of ideological matters and education in the PLA. Ma was thought to be connected to Xu and Guo Boxiong, another former CMC vice-chairman caught up in the anti-corruption campaign.
Rear admiral Jiang of the navy’s South Sea Fleet armaments department was the No 3 ranked navy official when he plunged to his death from a hotel building just two months before Ma’s death. Jiang died in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, on September 2, 2014, but there was not official announcement about his death. Jiang is said to be connected to the corruption cases of former CMC vice-chairmen Xu and Guo.
Chen, a major general, was found dead in his barracks after overdosing on sleeping pills last year. He was the political commissar of a major army group under the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command and sources said he was about to be promoted. His suicide came after the military launched a formal investigation into general Tian Xiusi, a former political chief of the air force and a member of the party’s elite Central Committee.