China's Xi tells army to learn from uncorrupt past

BEIJING: China's military must learn from the glorious, uncorrupt example of its revolutionary forebears and thoroughly banish the deep-rooted, pernicious influence of the army's worst corruption scandal in decades, President Xi Jinping has told officers.

Xi, who heads the military, has made weeding out corruption in the armed forces a top goal. Several senior officers have been felled, including one of China's most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou. Xu died of cancer in March.

Meeting soldiers in the northeastern city of Changchun, Xi said there can be no ambiguity when it comes to fighting graft.

"The damage caused by Xu Caihou's discipline and law-breaching activities is all-encompassing and deep-rooted," Xi said, according to a Defence Ministry statement late on Sunday.

Xu, who had been a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission which Xi leads, died before he could be brought to trial.

The government said in October Xu had confessed to taking "massive" bribes in exchange for help in promotions.

"Thoroughly clear away the influence of the Xu Caihou case in thinking, politics, organisation and work style. Return to, hold on to, and carry on the glorious traditions and excellent working style of the old Red Army," Xi said, using an informal term for Communist forces who won the Chinese civil war in 1949.

His remarks were carried in all major state-run newspapers on Monday. The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, said it was the first time Xi had mentioned Xu in public since the Xu's death.

Retired and serving officers have warned that the graft problem in the army is so serious it could affect the military's ability to wage war.

China intensified its 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.