China Political Advisory Body Ousts Senior Rocket Researcher


One of the Chinese government’s top political institutions has removed a prominent rocket research chief, adding to the number of apparent purges in Beijing over the past several months.

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference revoked the membership of Wang Xiaojun during a Monday meeting.

Wang led the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology from June 2019 through at least mid-2023 but that group now lists a person named Zhang Zhongyang as its chief. The institute, whose parent is China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., touts itself as the nation’s oldest and largest base for the development, testing and production of missile weapons and launch vehicles, according to its official website.

Wang’s removal from the advisory body marks the latest sign of turmoil in China’s broader defense establishment. Beijing has now unseated at least 16 senior military figures — including the highest-level defense official since 2017 — in the past six months. Their ousters have been left unexplained by China’s leadership but come amid reports of graft probes in the People’s Liberation Army and the Rocket Force in particular.

US intelligence indicates that graft has undermined the military’s capabilities, including vast fields of missile silos in western China with lids that don’t function in a way that would allow the missiles to launch effectively, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Wang, who obtained a Ph.D in rocket engine studies from the National University of Defense Technology, had received multiple awards for his contribution to the space sector. In an opinion article published by the Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily in February 2023, Wang vowed that his institute would “forge the soul of loyalty” and “more closely rally” behind the party’s leadership and President Xi Jinping.

China Aerospace Science and Technology also had its chairman booted from the political advisory body in December. Wu Yansheng had won national awards for his contribution to the space sector.

The maker of tactical missile systems held a meeting attended by its general manager, Zhang Zhongyang, and other executives on Saturday, according to a company statement on social media. The executives pledged to “fully understand the severe and complicated situation the group is facing,” the company said, and planned to further strengthen the party’s leadership within its ranks.


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