Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive brings down more generals than 20th century warfare
State media profile says more than 100 senior military commanders have been punished in leader’s crackdown on graft
President Xi Jinping has been praised by state media for his anti-corruption drive which, it claimed, has taken down more generals than the number killed in the fight to establish the People’s Republic of China.
A lengthy profile of Xi published by Xinhua on Friday said: “Since the 18th National Congress [in 2012], more than 100 PLA officers at or above the corps-level, including two former CMC vice chairmen, have been investigated and punished.
“This is even greater than the number of army generals who died in the battlefield during revolutionary times.”
Though most of the generals ended up facing corruption charges, they were also often accused of disloyalty to the party.
Xi also ordered the military to relinquish all business operations, despite being advised against the measure because it touched on too many vested interests, according to the article.
The anti-corruption drive in the military was part of Xi’s effort to reshape the armed forces, and eventually improve the People’s Liberation Army’s combat capabilities.
As early as 2012, the year he rose to the top of the party, Xi criticised the PLA’s unsuitability for modern warfare.
He set ambitious goals in his speech last month to the party congress to modernise the PLA by 2035, and fully transform it into a world-class force by the middle of the century, without elaborating on his specific criteria.
Xi also said his concern about the PLA’s combat readiness was drawn from studying history.
“It gives me great pain whenever I come across a time when we dropped back [in military terms] and fell victim to invasions,” he was quoted as telling military officers in Friday’s article.
Beijing’s efforts to boost patriotism in the past five years have grown increasingly reliant on the focus on previous humiliations, including the Qing dynasty’s defeats by the British and French Empires and the Japanese invasion.
In 2014 China introduced the National Memorial Day to commemorate the Rape of Nanking, which Beijing said resulted of the slaughter of more than 300,000 soldiers and civilians during a six-week campaign of terror in 1937.
It also held a massive military parade in 2015, the first such event to commemorate the end of the Second World War.
The Friday profile of Xi, which ran to more than 10,000 characters, was published around a month after Xi was confirmed his second term as the party’s general secretary.
Along with Xi’s signature anti-corruption campaign and military overhaul, the profile also credited him for the controversial island building programme in the South China Sea, which prompted an adverse ruling over China’s claims to sovereignty from The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration last year.
It also listed Beijing’s clampdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central Movement in 2014 as one of the major achievements Xi oversaw, despite speculation that the decision came from lower-level officials.
China’s National People’s Congress rejected proposals, from both the pan-democrat and the pro-Beijing camps, that aimed to improve public participation in the city’s chief executive elections.
The decision was followed more than two months of civil disobedience, when hundreds of thousands protesters blocked roads and paralysed the city’s financial district.