China: Senior military official commits suicide amid corruption probe

A top Chinese military official under investigation for corruption has committed suicide, the Defense Ministry and state media said on Tuesday.

Zhang Yang (pictured above), a former member of the powerful Central Military Commission, was “suspected of giving and taking bribes” and the origin of a large amount of his assets was unclear, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the commission.

“On the afternoon of November 23, Zhang Yang committed suicide at home,” the Xinhua report stated.

Read moreChina’s corruption ‘tiger hunt’ – A political weapon for Xi Jinping?

Alleged ties to corrupt generals

The probe against Zhang, who was the director of the military’s Political Work Department, focused on his suspected links to two corruption-tainted former generals.

He allegedly had ties with Guo Boxiong, who received a life sentence for graft in July 2016, as well as Xu Caihou, who died of cancer in March 2015 while on trial.

Both Xu and Guo were former chairmen of the Central Military Commission — which is chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Xi’s sweeping anti-graft campaign

Over 1.3 million Communist Party officials, including top members of the military, have been punished for corruption since Xi came to power in 2012.

Xi’s anti-graft campaign has particularly focused on China’s military, which is currently undergoing a modernization campaign.

Read moreChina’s Communist Party enshrines ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ in constitution

Both serving and retired officers have said that corruption in the armed forces is so pervasive that it could affect China’s ability to wage war.

However, some are skeptical of Xi’s campaign to restructure the military, with critics saying the process has allowed the president to remove potential opponents and place allies in leading positions.

rs/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)