December 16, 2015 / 4:48 AM / 2 years ago

China military says 'pathogen' of corruption persists in ranks

BEIJING (Reuters) - The “pathogen” of corruption persists within China’s armed forces, the top Chinese military newspaper said on Wednesday, indicating that President Xi Jinping will sustain his sweeping crackdown on graft in the ranks into next year.

New recruit People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers stand in formation during a training session in cold winter temperatures at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, China, November 29, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily

Xi has made his fight against military corruption a top priority, with serving and retired officers warning that the problem is so pervasive it could undermine China’s ability to wage war.

The People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front page editorial that, despite progress rooting out graft, “unhealthy tendencies” persisted and that the values of a minority of Communist party members and officials were still lacking.

“It can be said, there is still a certain gap between the present status of upright style and stern discipline and the demands of President Xi and the expectations of the troops,” the newspaper said.

“The pathogen still has not been eradicated,” it said.

The PLA is already reeling from Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, which has seen dozens of officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission. Some analysts say Xi is also eliminating rivals.

At the same time, Xi has unveiled a broad-brush outline for military reforms, seeking further modernization of the command structure of the world’s largest armed forces.

China intensified its crackdown on corruption in the armed forces 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.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Paul Tait

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