Chinese General Under Investigation, Joining a Line of Fallen Commanders


Gen. Fang Fenghui, center, with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Beijing in August. Credit Thomas Peter/Reuters

BEIJING — A senior Chinese general who won the national spotlight by overseeing a grand military parade and who vowed unwavering support for President Xi Jinping’s drive against corruption has come under investigation for graft, the latest in a string of People’s Liberation Army commanders to fall.

Gen. Fang Fenghui disappeared from public view nearly five months ago and quietly retired from his posts, igniting rumors that he was under investigation. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, confirmed on Tuesday that military prosecutors were investigating him on charges of giving and taking bribes.

The brief announcement gave no other details. But the charges that he had given, as well as taken, kickbacks raised the possibility that he may have paid his way up the ranks, some Chinese news media said. Mr. Xi has warned that such corruption threatens to shake Communist Party rule by eroding the loyalty and preparedness of the armed forces.

“In fact, as early as 2003, he was already a senior military officer at military region deputy level,” said a party commentary widely republished by the Chinese news media. “The target of his bribes must be shocking.”

As a member of the Central Military Commission, which runs the People’s Liberation Army, and chief of staff of the Joint Staff Department, General Fang, 66, helped enforce a drastic reorganization of the military forces that Mr. Xi began in 2015. He oversaw a military parade in central Beijing in 2009 that marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and General Fang seemed to be a cheerleader for Mr. Xi’s military modernization.

But Liberation Army Daily, the main newspaper of the Chinese military, suggested that General Fang belonged to a group of corrupt commanders that included Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, the most senior Chinese military officers taken down by graft charges. Generals Guo and Xu formally came under investigation in 2014, a year or more after they had stepped down.

General Fang’s “ideals and convictions had been shaken, he abandoned the mission of the party and degenerated politically, becoming economically rapacious,” said an editorial published in the Liberation Army Daily on Wednesday. His misdeeds, it added, had “seriously tarnished the image of the party, the military and leading officials.”

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