Chinese army troops kept 'illicit' apartments and vehicles: State media

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has discovered in a corruption probe that its troops "illicitly kept" more than 8,000 apartments and 25,000 vehicles, state media said on Tuesday.

But those who benefited will apparently escape punishment, and only have to give them up.

President Xi Jinping, who as chairman of the Central Military Commission is also China's top military official, has called corruption a threat to the Communist Party's very survival, and vowed pursue powerful "tigers" as well as lowly"flies".

China intensified a crackdown on rampant corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the PLA from engaging in business. But graft has intensified in recent years due to a lack of transparency and checks and balances.

The PLA said its probe had "uncovered more than 8,100 apartments and more than 25,000 vehicles kept illicitly by its personnel", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

There was, however, no mention of punishment.

"Various PLA units have promised to return illegal housing and eliminate secretaries that were not allowed; they have also vowed to strictly regulate the use of military vehicles," Xinhua said.

"PLA units have held criticism and self-criticism meetings and submitted reports to echo a Communist Party of China drive to clean up undesirable work styles such as ... bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance."

This is not the first time the military has featured in Mr Xi's new anti-graft campaign.

The military began replacing licence plates on its cars and trucks in April to crack down on drivers taking advantage of military plates to run red lights, drive aggressively and fill up on free fuel.

Military plates enable drivers to avoid road tolls and parking fees and are often handed out to associates as perks or favours.

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