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China: President Xi’s Communist Party expels two ex-defense ministers

China: President Xi’s Communist Party expels two ex-defense ministers

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Continuing the purge of all his potential challengers as China hurtles from one national crisis to another, President Xi Jinping-controlled Communist Party has expelled two former defense ministers over, what else, “corruption charges.”

Hundreds of thousands of government employees, even highly-placed bureaucrats, military officials, and ministers have been sacked or jailed during the decade-long Xi regime which started in 2013. They were all bundled out because of “corruption charges” against them as part of the ruling party’s purge of ‘inconvenient’ people.

Now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has expelled former Defence Minister Li Shangfu, who was sacked last year, and his predecessor, as part of an anticorruption crackdown, according to state-controlled media reports.

The expulsion of Li, who had not been seen in public for nearly two months, before he was fired in October 2023, and his predecessor Wei Fenghe, for the “serious violation of party discipline and the law” was reported by the official news agency Xinhua on Thursday.

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

Xinhua reported that Li’s case had been referred to military prosecutors, potentially setting up a trial that could lead to him getting life in prison.

The announcement followed a meeting of the party’s powerful Politburo of senior leaders to review Li’s status. They ruled that Li had “betrayed his original mission and lost his party spirit and principles”, the media reported.

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 defense, and the construction of the armed forces”.

The former defense 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.”

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

President Xi Jinping, who also leads the CCP and 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.

Insiders have alleged a widespread purge of officials suspected of conspiring with outside forces or simply being insufficiently loyal to Xi. High-ranking officers occupy an elevated position in Chinese politics and can command extensive privileges. Earlier, Li was considered a Xi loyalist.

Chinese media also reported on Thursday that the CCP would hold its high-level third plenum on July 15-18, much later than expected. The plenum will focus on future strategies aimed at boosting the world’s number two economy as geopolitical tensions rise over tariff hikes by the US and the European Union.


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