Tuesday, July 16, 2024

China’s Communist Party expels former defense ministers over corruption allegations | Political News


The purge targets Li Shangfu and Wei Fenghe, and their expulsion coincides with escalating tensions with the United States over Taiwan.

China’s ruling Communist Party has expelled former Defense Minister Li Changfu, who was sacked last year, and his predecessor, as part of an anti-corruption campaign, state media reported.

Li, who did not appear in public for nearly two months before being sacked in October 2023, and his predecessor Wei Fenghe were fired for “serious violation of party discipline and the law,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

Their expulsions from the party come at a time of heightened tensions between China and the United States over a range of issues including democratic island Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea.

Li’s case has been referred to military prosecutors, which could lead to a trial that could see him sentenced to life in prison, Xinhua news agency reported.

The announcement came after a meeting of the powerful Politburo of the party’s top leaders to review Lee’s situation. They ruled that Lee had “betrayed his original mission and lost his party’s spirit and principles,” according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Li is accused of “seriously polluting the political environment and industrial ethics in the field of military equipment, and causing great damage to the cause of the Party, national defense and the construction of the armed forces.”

The former defense minister has also been charged with bribery, and is suspected of “taking advantage of his position and taking huge sums of money to obtain benefits for others… and giving money to others to obtain improper benefits,” according to China Central Television.

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Wei, who retired as defense minister in 2023 after five years in office, was accused of accepting money and gifts in violation of the rules and using his position to obtain benefits for others, accepting money and valuables in return, Xinhua news agency reported.

Wei’s case has also been referred to military prosecutors.

President Xi Jinping, who is also party leader and leads the armed forces as chairman of the Central Military Commission, has made fighting corruption a hallmark of his rule since taking power more than a decade ago.

Insiders have alleged a massive purge of officers suspected of colluding with outside forces or simply not being loyal enough to Xi. Senior officers hold high positions in Chinese politics and can receive wide-ranging privileges. Lee was considered an Xi loyalist.

Chinese media also reported on Thursday that the Communist Party of China will hold its third high-level meeting from July 15 to 18, much later than expected. The meeting will focus on future strategies to boost the world’s second-largest economy as geopolitical tensions mount over tariff hikes by the United States and the European Union.

Rainerio Manuel
Rainerio Manuel

"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."