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Zhang Yang (left) and Fang Fenghui. Photo: AP

Two senior Chinese generals stripped of rank and party membership over corruption claims

Military chiefs say fallen chief of joint staff and commander who took his own life ‘to escape punishment’ seriously damaged Communist Party with their actions

Two senior former generals have been stripped of their Communist Party membership and military rank because of corruption allegations, Beijing announced on Tuesday.

“The violations are very serious and the scale of the corruption is huge. It caused serious damage,” according to a statement released through state news agency Xinhua.

A source close to the Chinese military said more than 300 military personnel were implicated in the case against Fang Fenghui. The former chief of joint staff is under investigation in a more than 100 million yuan (US$1.4 million) corruption case.

The statement from the Central Military Commission said Fang had not been loyal to the Communist Party and had done serious damage to the party and the army.

It continued that Fang, 66, had seriously violated political discipline and central government rules banning extravagance and taking bribes.

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In another statement, the commission also said Zhang Yang, a former head of its political work department, had been stripped of his general’s rank and party membership.

Zhang, 66, hanged himself at his home in Beijing in November 2017 when he was being investigated.

“Zhang attempted to escape punishment through committing suicide. This has seriously damaged the party and the army,” the statement said.

A second source said more than 40 people were implicated in the investigation against Zhang. The military held an internal briefing about the investigation of the two generals on Monday, the source added.

President Xi Jinping launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign after taking power. At least 13,000 military officers found to be involved in corruption have been punished over the past five years, PLA Daily reported last October.

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Fang was once the youngest commander of a People’s Liberation Army military region, and was described as an “opportunist” by insiders.

He was promoted to major general in 1998 when he was a corps commander of the Lanzhou Military Region and became chief of staff of the Guangzhou Military Region in 2003, becoming a lieutenant general two years later.

In 2007, he was appointed commander of the Beijing Military Region, responsible for the defence of the capital. At the time, he was the PLA’s youngest ever regional commander.

But Fang and Zhang were omitted from the list of PLA delegates to last year’s party congress that confirmed Xi’s second term as the party chief – a hint they were in trouble. In January, Xinhua said Fang would be handed over to military prosecutors.

State media said Zhang had been linked to former disgraced Central Military Commission vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou.

Guo and Xu were the most senior military officers investigated for buying and selling military ranks and other forms of corruption in the sweeping anti-graft campaign. Guo, 75, was jailed for life in July 2016 and Xu died of cancer at the age of 72 in 2015 while in custody and under investigation for graft.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Ex-generals ousted from party over graft allegations