BEIJING (AFP) – Former top Chinese military leader Guo Boxiong was sentenced Monday (July 25) to life in prison for accepting bribes, the official Xinhua news agency said – the latest high-profile conviction in President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.
For a decade, Guo was one of the two vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, second only to the Chinese president in the top body of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He retired in 2012 and was expelled from the ruling Communist Party last year.
His fall comes as President Xi Jinping seeks to consolidate his power and enhance his control over the PLA, the world’s largest military and technically the armed force of the ruling party rather than the Chinese state.
In addition to receiving a life sentence, Guo was also deprived of his political rights for life and stripped of his rank of general, Xinhua said, citing a military court. His personal assets were also seized.
“The amount of bribes Guo Boxiong received was especially large, and the circumstances of his crimes were especially grave,” a military court official told Xinhua.
The trial was closed because it “touched on military secrets”, the official, whose identity was not provided, added.
In April, Xinhua reported that Guo had “confessed” to taking bribes, having read and signed transcripts of interrogations undertaken by the military procuratorate.
Xi’s widely-publicised anti-corruption campaign – which critics say has been used for factional infighting – has ensnared the late Xu Caihou, the previous number three figure in the PLA, among a long list of other high-ranking military officers.
China’s military has significant business interests in sectors ranging from property and logistics to telecommunications and healthcare, which have become a hotbed for corruption.
In May, China’s Central Military Commission announced that it had sent 10 teams of inspectors to investigate the PLA, the first time the supreme military command established a standing anti-corruption force.
Along with Bo Xilai, whose fall predates Xi’s ascension to the presidency, Guo is the fourth former member of the Communist Party’s 25-strong Politburo to fall.
Chinese media poured scorn on Guo after he was expelled from the ruling party last year.
“One demon killed, all demons deterred,” declared a commentary in the People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece.
His family built up an enormous fortune after he ascended to the highest echelons of power, news portal Netease.com reported at the time of his expulsion from the party.
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 said.
Guo’s son Guo Zhenggang, also a PLA officer, was placed under investigation shortly before his father’s expulsion from the party.