Former China defence minister Chang Wanquan ‘given military demotion over link to corruption case’

12-Jul-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A Chinese former defence minister and state councillor was demoted for his involvement in the corruption that brought down two disgraced vice-chairmen of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), military sources have said.

General Chang Wanquan, 70, who was also a member of the CMC from 2007 until his retirement in March 2018, was demoted two grades to a deputy regional commander-level officer because of his close relationship with former commission vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, one source close to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) told the South China Morning Post.

There had not been an official announcement of Chang’s demotion, but military insiders said that the downgrading of his retirement benefits indicated his reduction in military rank.

Senior military officials of lieutenant general rank or above were entitled to live in a stand-alone house, insiders said.

“Chang’s residence was moved to two apartments in the former armoured force’s complex in Haidian District, indicating that his retirement benefit was downgraded to be parallel to a deputy regional military commander,” one source, who requested anonymity, said.

“His demotion was related to the downfall of Guo and Xu during President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.”

“In the PLA, all senior officials with major general rank and above enjoy lifelong honours and related benefits, so Chang’s military rank would have been demoted when his treatment was downgraded,” one of the insiders said.

Chang, who joined the PLA in 1968, was Guo’s protege when both were serving in the original Lanzhou Military Command from the 1970s to the late 1990s, with Chang spending 35 years in Lanzhou, where Guo’s power base is.

The Lanzhou Military Command was merged with the army’s West Theatre Command in 2016 after Xi, who chairs the CMC, introduced a comprehensive overhaul in late 2015, aiming to transform the PLA into a more nimble and world-class fighting force.

Guo and Xu fell from grace after Xi took the helm of the CMC in late 2012 and initiated a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in both the Communist Party and the military. The former received a life sentence for corruption in 2016, while Xu died of cancer at the age of 72 while in custody and under investigation on similar charges.

Another source said Chang’s demotion could be seen as a “safe landing” that would let him have an “easy retirement”.

“Chang’s case could be very serious, because he could be seen as part of the harmful influence of Guo and Xu, but he doesn’t need to be put in jail like Guo, and moving him to the armoured complex, which is close to the 301 Hospital, is such humane treatment,” the source said, referring to the PLA general Hospital.

After the downfall of Guo and Xu, Chang strongly pledged his loyalty to Xi at a military conference during 2017′s Party Congress.

But PLA Daily, the military mouthpiece newspaper, did not publish his remarks, raising speculation that he was under investigation.

Another military source said Chang’s demotion and suspected involvement in corruption had dragged Lieutenant general Qian Weiping, a deputy head of the CMC’s equipment development department, into trouble.

“Qian was working under Chang in the PLA’s former general armaments department (GAD) when the latter was department head from 2007 to 2012,” the source said, adding that Qian had been under investigation but refusing to give further details.

The GAD is one of the army’s four original headquarters that were reorganised and replaced by 15 functional departments directly under the CMC in the overhaul.

Qian, 56, is an aerospace expert who in March was promoted by Xi to deputy head of the equipment development department. But a statement circulated on Chinese social media late last month said he had been taken away from a conference in Guangzhou and his home in Beijing had been searched.


Category: China

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