10 July 2024

What China's Historic Firing of Two Defense Ministers Means for Taiwan | Opinion

Gordon G. Chang

On June 27, the Politburo of the Communist Party of China announced corruption investigations into Generals Wei Fenghe and Li Shangfu, the two previous defense ministers, and expelled both from the ruling organization. (The People's Liberation Army reports to the Party, not the Chinese state.) The two former ministers were also stripped of their ranks and now face investigations by the military.

This was the first time in the history of the Chinese military, founded in 1927, that the Party announced corruption investigations of two defense ministers on the same day. The "unusual decision," writes William Zheng of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, "has underscored the fury and frustration of the Communist Party's leadership over persistent graft that is deemed a threat to China's fighting capacity and nuclear deterrence."

"You can sense the Party's anger and fury in the accusations on Wei and Li," a Nanjing University political scientist, speaking anonymously to the paper, said. "You can almost tell there is a feeling of, 'How dare you let me down on the most important job!'" The expert speculates that Communist Party leaders believe that corruption in the officer corps calls into question Xi Jinping's control over China's nuclear arsenal.

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