China’s Defence Ministry on Thursday vowed to “crack down on every corrupt official”, when asked about a reshuffle of senior rocket force commanders and the whereabouts of former Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, who has not been seen for months.
“We will investigate every case and crack down on every corrupt official,” spokesperson Wu Qian told reporters at a briefing. “The Chinese military governs according to the law, and shows zero tolerance of corruption.”
It was the ministry’s first public reference to probes into corruption among top military leaders following a major shake-up of the leadership of the armed force overseeing the nation’s conventional and nuclear missiles.
In July, President Xi Jinping, also the military’s commander-in-chief, appointed a new head of the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force. The force’s political commissar was also changed.
Both the men picked for the two posts were not from the Rocket Force, a departure from tradition. The new head, Wang Houbin, was a former deputy commander of the navy, while Xu Xisheng, its new political commissar, was formerly the deputy political commissar of the Southern Theatre Command, one of the PLA’s five theatre commands.
State-controlled media did not say where the force’s previous chief, Li Yuchao, was reassigned or state his whereabouts. He has not been seen in public for months.
Former defence minister Wei has also not been seen since he was replaced in March during a planned cabinet reshuffle. Wei was the head of the Rocket Force in 2015-2017.
The new appointments came days after Xi called for high-quality development of the armed forces with “high-level governance.”