March 2, 2015 / 10:19 AM / in 3 years

China says probing son of former top military officer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is investigating 14 of its senior military officers, including the son of one of its former top generals, for suspected corruption, state media said on Monday, the latest wave of Beijing’s intensifying anti-graft campaign in the army.

The Defence Ministry said one of the officers under investigation was Guo Zhenggang, the son of Guo Boxiong, who retired as vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission in 2013.

Guo, the deputy political commissar of the military in the eastern province of Zhejiang, was being investigated on suspicion of “violating the law”, the ministry said in a statement on its website, without elaborating. In China, “violating the law” is often a euphemism for corruption.

Guo, 45, is also a major-general, according to the Global Times, an influential tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

Rumors that Guo Zhenggang was being investigated for corruption have swirled in the overseas Chinese press over the last few months. Reuters has not been able to reach Guo for comment.

The news comes four months after one of China’s most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou, confessed to taking “massive” bribes in exchange for help in promotions.

The Defence Ministry said in a separate commentary that the release of the new list would help combat naysayers who thought the crackdown was “just for appearances” or “a gust of wind”.

“The military is really going for it in fighting corruption,” it said.

President Xi Jinping heads the Central Military Commission, which controls the 2.3 million strong armed forces, the world’s largest, and has made weeding out corruption in the military a top goal. He has vowed to target high-ranking “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” in a broad campaign against corruption.

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

China stepped up a crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the PLA from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said.

Anti-graft advocates have said corruption in the military is so pervasive that it could undermine China’s ability to wage war.

Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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