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China’s defense minister booked under corruption:

Image Source: CNN

China has recently confirmed that two former defense ministers, Li Shangfu and Wei Fenghe, who disappeared from public view last year, were under investigation for corruption. This revelation follows months of speculation and official silence surrounding their whereabouts and status.

Li Shangfu, who served as defense minister for only seven months before his abrupt removal in October, and Wei Fenghe, who held the position from 2018 to 2023, have been expelled from the Communist Party and their cases have been transferred to military prosecutors for further action, as reported by state media.

Their downfall marks a significant development in President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign within the military establishment. This purge has seen more than a dozen senior generals and military-industrial complex executives ousted since last summer, reflecting deep-seated corruption allegations that undermine China’s military modernization efforts.

Despite Xi Jinping’s efforts to bolster the combat readiness and assertiveness of China’s armed forces, the removal of Li and Wei underscores the challenges in maintaining integrity at the highest levels of military leadership. Both former ministers, known for their assertive stance on issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea, had been promoted under Xi’s leadership, yet their tenure ended under a cloud of corruption allegations.

Analysts, such as James Char from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, highlight the systemic challenges in combating corruption within the PLA, citing the lack of independent oversight and a transparent legal system. This internal reliance on military investigators complicates efforts to eradicate corruption fully.

The revelations surrounding Li Shangfu and Wei Fenghe’s cases raise questions about China’s military readiness and governance as it navigates heightened geopolitical tensions. The implications of their downfall extend beyond personal misconduct to broader implications for China’s strategic posture and internal governance reforms under Xi Jinping’s leadership.

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