Two Chinese Ex-Defence Ministers Expelled By Chinese Communist Party On Corruption Charges

(FILES) China's Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu delivers a speech during the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 4, 2023. Former Chinese defence minister Li Shangfu has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party, state media said on June 27, 2024, after he was sacked abruptly last year in unexplained circumstances. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

Beijing: In a major decision, the Chinese Communist Party has expelled two former defense ministers as part of its “anti-corruption crackdown,” Al Jazeera reported, citing state media. Defense Minister Li Shangfu was sacked in 2023 after he went missing. Another expelled ex-minister is Shangfu’s predecessor, Wei Fenghe.

The expulsion of Li and predecessor Wei Fenghe for “serious violation of party discipline and the law” was reported by the official news agency Xinhua on Thursday, the purge coming at a time of increasing tension between China and the United States over the fate of Taiwan.

Li was removed in October 2023 after only a few months in office following his disappearance from public view for almost two months. Xinhua reported that his case had been referred to military prosecutors, potentially setting up a trial that could lead to him getting life in prison.
The party’s powerful Politburo of senior leaders convened on Thursday to review Li’s status. They ruled that Li had “betrayed his original mission and lost his party spirit and principles”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Li is alleged to have “seriously polluted the political environment and industrial ethos in the field of military equipment, and caused great damage to the party’s cause, national defence and the construction of the armed forces.”

The former defence minister was also accused of bribery, suspected of “taking advantage of his position and taking huge sums of money to seek benefits for others … and giving money to others to seek inappropriate benefits”, said CCTV.

Wei, who retired as defence minister in 2023 after five years in office, was accused of accepting money and gifts in violation of the rules and taking advantage of his post to seek benefits for others, accepting money and valuables in return, according to Xinhua.

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also party’s leader and heads the armed forces as chairman of the Central Military Commission, has made the fight against corruption a hallmark of his rule since taking power more than a decade ago, Al Jazeera reported.

Sources reveal substantial dismissals amongst officers suspected of disloyalty or collaboration with outsiders towards Xi’s regime. Evidently, prominent roles in Chinese politics belong to senior officers, who enjoy numerous perks. The Chinese Communist Party is gearing up for an important session slated for July 15-18, aimed at mapping out future plans in response to the mounting pressure from the US and the European Union due to raised tariffs.


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