June 15, 2015 / 10:13 AM / 2 years ago

China military to probe building projects in graft crackdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s military has begun a six-month probe into buildings erected without permission, that exceed specifications or are illegally rented out, as part of a broader campaign against corruption, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, have become a focus of President Xi Jinping’s campaign to root out deeply-ingrained graft including bribery, which often takes the form of lavish gifts to officials or extravagant spending of government funds.

“Some ‘big problems’ left over from the past several years continue to exist, and illegality and ill-discipline keeps happening. Chronic problems in the building of barracks have not been totally sorted out,” the ministry said.

The military earlier this year ordered barracks to be built as simply and economically as possible, without using ostentatious or imported building materials.

Several senior officers have been felled in Xi’s sweep, including Xu Caihou, who was a deputy chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, which Xi heads. Xu died of cancer in March.

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 intensified its crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army 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.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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