February 20, 2019 (AFP)
A former chief of staff of China’s military was sentenced to life in prison, state media said Wednesday, after he was swept up in President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-graft crackdown.
Appointed to the People’s Liberation Army’s top post in 2012, Fang Fenghui was convicted of accepting and offering bribes, and having an unclear source of a huge amount of assets, official news agency Xinhua reported.
A military court sentenced Fang to life in prison, stripped him of political rights for life, and ordered the confiscation of all his personal assets, Xinhua said.
Fang was abruptly replaced in August 2017 amid a stand-off with India over a territorial dispute, and just days after he had met the US top brass to discuss North Korea.
The general was transferred to the military prosecution authority on suspicion of bribery in January of last year, state media reported at the time.
Fang was one of two senior generals who did not appear on a list of delegates to the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress in October 2017, sparking speculation he had run afoul of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
The other, Zhang Yang, committed suicide in Beijing later that year after being investigated over connections to two graft-tainted former senior military officers.
Xi has pledged to continue the anti-corruption crackdown, which since 2012 has brought down 1.5 million party officials at various levels — including top military leaders.
Corruption has long been an intractable problem for the country, but many experts argue that the campaign has the hallmarks of a political purge as the Chinese president consolidates his power.
Xi has sought to enhance his control over China’s two-million-strong military, the world’s largest, reshuffling its leadership and vowing to make it “world-class” by 2050.
The military was ordered to pledge to be “absolutely loyal, honest and reliable to Xi” in new guidelines released by the Central Military Commission in 2017.
All of Fang’s recovered assets will be turned over to the state treasury, Xinhua said.