BEIJING (AP) — China has expelled a former top general from the ruling Communist Party over corruption accusations as President Xi Jinping's campaign to root out graft in the government and military churns onward.
Guo Boxiong, a former vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, will be prosecuted under the armed forces' justice system, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.
Xinhua said Guo, 73, is accused of accepting bribes to grant promotions and other benefits for others as a vice chairman of the commission that is led by China's head of state. Further details weren't given, although prosecutors have focused on the selling of ranks and positions, and the embezzlement of military funds as they attempt to clean up corruption in the world's largest standing military.
Guo's expulsion, a key precursor to prosecution, "illustrates the unswerving will to punish corruption," the military newspaper People's Liberation Army Daily said in a front page article on Guo.
"Each and every breach of party discipline will be severely punished regardless of the size of the individual's power or the height of their position, with zero tolerance and no going soft," the paper said.
Military corruption is believed to have thrived under Xi's predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, whose civilian backgrounds never lent them much influence over the general staff. Xi, in contrast, is the son of one of the former comrades-in-arms of communist China's founder Mao Zedong and himself served briefly as a uniformed officer.
That seems to have given him the necessary clout to go after senior figures, including Guo's former fellow military commission vice chairman, Xu Caihou, who had been indicted on charges of taking bribes and brokering promotions prior to his death from cancer earlier this year.
Their positions on the commission allowed Guo and Xu, who both retired in 2012, broad powers over who rose up the ranks and received the juiciest positions, which in turn put the recipients in position to profit from their own rent-taking.
Some top generals are reported to have accumulated stunning fortunes in both cash and gifts including golden statues of Mao Zedong and cases of expensive liquor stacked to the ceiling in secret underground caches.
Such practices are believed by some to have sapped the PLA's morale and battle worthiness, and Xi has relentlessly driven home the need for officers to keep their hands clean during recent visits to military units.
Guo's prosecution had been expected since March, when his son, Maj. Gen. Guo Zhenggang, was placed under formal investigation for corruption and unspecified criminal activity.