Former senior Chinese military officer Xu Caihou to be prosecuted for graft

China's Central Military Commission Vice Chairman General Xu Caihou salutes as he listens to national anthems during a welcome ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, in this Oct 27, 2009, file photograph. Xu, who stands accused of graft, will b
China's Central Military Commission Vice Chairman General Xu Caihou salutes as he listens to national anthems during a welcome ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, in this Oct 27, 2009, file photograph. Xu, who stands accused of graft, will be prosecuted in court and he has been expelled from the Communist Party and the military, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - A once-powerful retired Chinese military officer has confessed to taking “massive” bribes and will be prosecuted in court, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.  

General Xu Caihou, a former vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was court-martialled in June. He has been stripped of his title and expelled from the military, Xinhua said, citing military prosecutors.  

Military prosecutors had finished investigating his case and had started a procedure to file the case with judicial authorities, Xinhua said.  

Xu took advantage of his position in awarding promotions, Xinhua said. He accepted “huge amounts of bribes” personally and through family members.  He also sought profits for others in exchange for bribes, Xinhua said.  The statement also noted that Xu’s expulsion from the Communist Party had been formalised.  

Earlier this year, authorities charged one of Xu’s proteges, Lieutenant-General Gu Junshan, with graft.  

The buying and selling of senior jobs in the military, an open secret, has worried reformers who say it leads to those with talent being cast aside and damages morale. Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to target high-ranking “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” in a sprawling campaign against corruption.

China stepped up a crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said.

Anti-graft advocates have said corruption in the military is so pervasive that it could undermine China’s ability to wage war.