Military the target of corruption offensive


CHINA’S EFFORTS to rein in corruption are spreading to the military, with all ranking officers being asked to declare their personal incomes and property such as real estate.

State media reports said all investments must be disclosed, and the website of the People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper said the officers’ information will be checked under strengthened verification procedures.

There have been some high-profile corruption cases in the past, and the general logistics department, which looks after the army’s real estate and other assets, is particularly prone to corruption accusations.

One of the more famous cases was back in 2006, when the former deputy head of the navy, Wang Shouye (67), was convicted of accepting more than 160 million yuan (€20 million) in bribes and running a string of five mistresses.

Officers of the People’s Liberation Army enjoy numerous perks such as number plates that exempt them from fines and tolls, but more and more frequently these military plates are being seen on decidedly unmilitary vehicles, such as Porsche Cayenne SUVs.

Officers frequently use their special status to advance their financial interests and those of their family and friends.

In China, defence spending was the headline opening this year’s annual parliament, the National People’s Congress, as Asia’s biggest economy seeks to underline its role as a rising nation with a 11.2 per cent increase of its military spend to 670.2 billion yuan (€84 billion).

Much of China’s military spend goes on the 2.3 million personnel in the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s biggest military. Rising inflation in China have seen huge rises in wage costs, barracks expenses and food costs. Pension costs are also significant for the Chinese military.

The government has committed to actually cutting the size of the army to 1.5 million. The PLA has always been large because it is essentially a citizen army built around the peasant warriors who led the Communists to power in the 1949 revolution.

The army has had very busy and successful commercial interests since the passing of chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, when they were forced to look for funding sources.

The Poly Group, for example, which is involved in weapons manufacture, has had sidelines in property, film production and auction houses.

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