December 31, 2015 / 9:45 AM / 2 years ago

Senior Chinese military officer sacked after drink binge death

BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior Chinese military officer has been sacked for a drinking binge in which another officer died, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday, the latest incident of poor behavior in the world’s largest armed forces.

Hong Kong media reported this week that Zhang Yan, who was the head of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 26th Army and one of its youngest commanders, went drinking with two subordinates, one of whom drank himself to death. Zhang was then fired.

Asked to confirm the details, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Zhang was a “typical case” of the sort of poor behavior and lax discipline the ruling Communist Party has been trying to stamp out.

Zhang has been “handled in accordance with the rules”, which shows the military’s determination to come down hard on those who break discipline, widely supported by other soldiers.

The details of what Zhang had done and what had happened to him, as had been asked by a Chinese reporter at a monthly news briefing, were carried on the ministry’s website in its transcript from the press conference.

Yang said military leaders “must take the initiative to set an example and are certainly not allowed to ignore notifications and not follow discipline”.

He did not elaborate.

The military has been shaken by a series of scandals since President Xi Jinping took power three years ago, vowing to root out deeply-embedded corruption.

Two of the country’s top former officers have been felled in graft probes, one of whom died of cancer before he could be brought to trial, and dozens of others have been caught up too.

Yang also announced that General Liu Yuan, a high-profile military corruption whistleblower, who is close to Xi, had retired from his position as political commissar of the PLA’s Logistics Department.

Liu had served in the position for a decade and the rules state he has to step down, Yang said, without elaborating.

Liu at one point had been expected to be promoted to China’s top military decision-making body.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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