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Expelled Chinese general 'dishonest' since youth

31 July 2015, 10:30

Beijing-Chinese media on Friday poured scorn on fallen military leader Guo Boxiong, accusing the "demon" former top general of dishonesty since his youth and his family of selling military posts for cash.

Guo was for a decade one of the two vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC), second only to the Chinese president in the top body of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

But the 73-year-old, who stepped down in 2012, was expelled from the ruling Communist Party on Thursday and handed to military prosecutors over accusations of corruption, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

He is one of the most senior military figures to be toppled in the anti-graft drive overseen by President Xi Jinping.

The move -- widely expected after he was put under investigation in April -- means he will almost certainly face trial, with a guilty sentence and jail term effectively guaranteed to follow in a court system controlled by the Communist Party.

Another former CMC vice chairman, Xu Caihou, died of cancer earlier this year while under investigation.

"No matter what power one holds or how high one's position is, if a person violates Party rules and law, he or she should be hunted down without compromise and without mercy," Xinhua quoted the ruling party's Politburo as saying in a statement on Guo's case.

"One demon killed, all demons deterred," declared a commentary in the People's Daily, the party's official mouthpiece.

"We must raise high and wield the sharp anti-corruption sword, so that the idea of going corrupt will be nipped in the bud and the corrupt will pay a price."

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Print and online media in China launched a broadside against Guo and his relatives on Friday, accusing the family of amassing immense wealth by exploiting his position.

Guo was regarded as of "poor moral quality" by his colleagues at a factory during China's Great Famine because he changed the number on his grain ration coupons -- required to buy food -- to obtain one extra piece of steamed bread, news portal Netease.com reported.

Scholars estimate the famine of the late 1950s and early 1960s, triggered by revolutionary leader Mao Zedong's disastrous policies, killed as many as 45 million people.

More recently, Guo's family built up an enormous fortune after he ascended to the highest echelons of power, the online report said.

His wife He Xiulian acted as a broker between him and senior military officers, taking bribes for promotions and refunding the money if the post did not materialise, it added.

Their son Guo Zhenggang, once one of China's youngest generals, was put under investigation in March, Chinese media outlet thepaper.cn said.

The younger Guo's wife made more than 1.5 billion yuan ($242 million) over little more than five years by leasing military land for shopping facilities and other activities, it added.

As well as being the world's largest active military, a vast network of businesses are linked to China's armed forces -- so extensive that academics have dubbed it "PLA Inc".

Since coming to power more than two years ago Xi has sought to impose himself on the military, one of the targets of his wide-ranging anti-corruption drive.

Graft is endemic in China and critics say that without systemic reforms the campaign is open to being used for political faction-fighting. The hugely powerful former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life in prison last month, is its most high-profile scalp.

The PLA Daily branded the older Guo a "bad example" in an editorial Friday.

His investigation and punishment "once again showed that the Party is brave in facing up its problems and correcting its mistakes," it said.

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