Another member of the People’s Liberation Army top brass is reported to have been dragged down for taking bribes.
Xi Jinping’s war on corruption plus the party’s white-hot infighting have felled Fan Changlong, the just-retired deputy chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission (CMC), the command and control of the PLA, according to an exposé by the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily.
If the report is substantiated, Fan is set to join his two predecessors, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, as the third CMC deputy chairman to have fallen foul of graft-busters. Guo was given life imprisonment in a trial in July 2016 while Xu died of bladder cancer while in custody.
Party General Secretary Xi heads the powerful CMC, while Fan as the deputy chairman was charged with the daily running of the 2.3 million strong PLA from 2012 to 2017.
The 70-year-old Fan was a protégé of Xu, who propelled his subordinate’s ascent through the ranks and promoted him to the deputy chairmanship shortly after the 18th party congress in 2012, when Fan was also elevated to the Politburo, the party’s top decision-making body. The pair both hailed from the northeastern province of Liaoning.
Fan rushed to pledge allegiance to Xi after Xu’s downfall, extolling Xi’s leadership and military thoughts on multiple occasions while also joining the nationwide recriminations against Xu.
A separate post on Twitter alleged that the panicked Fan volunteered to turn in 45 million yuan (US$7 million) in graft in a bid for lenient treatment, after rumors of an investigation began to swirl after his retirement in October 2017.
Observers say it remains to be seen how far Xi can go to eradicate Fan and Xu’s coteries within the PLA while making sure the force’s morale and combat readiness are not impaired.
A 2015 revelation by overseas media noted that Fan wrote to Xi, asking for leeway and a delay in the latter’s aggressive military reforms, which saw the integration of seven military regions into five theatre commands, which left numerous generals and soldiers redundant or put on secondment.
Fan’s biography is still seen on websites of the People’s Daily and Communist Party of China News.