Xu Caihou

Last updated

Xu Caihou
徐才厚
Xu Caihou 2009.jpg
Xu Caihou in October 2009
Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission
In office
State Commission
13 March 2005 14 March 2013
Party Commission
19 September 2004 15 November 2012
Chairman Hu Jintao
Head of the People's Liberation Army General Political Department
In office
November 2002 September 2004
Preceded by Yu Yongbo
Succeeded by Li Jinai
Secretary of the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Central Military Commission
In office
December 2000 November 2002
Preceded by Zhou Ziyu
Succeeded by Zhang Shutian
Personal details
BornJune 1943
Wafangdian, Liaoning
DiedMarch 15, 2015 (aged 71)
Beijing
Political party Communist Party of China (1971–2014, expelled)
Alma mater Harbin Military Engineering Institute
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China
Branch/servicePeople's Liberation Army Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg People's Liberation Army
Years of service1968–2012
Rank PLAGeneral r.png General
(stripped in 2014)
Commands Jinan Military Region (1996–1999)
Xu Caihou
Chinese

Xu Caihou (Chinese :徐才厚; June 1943 – March 15, 2015) was a Chinese general in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the country's top military council. As Vice-Chairman of the CMC, he was one of the top ranking officers of the People's Liberation Army. He also held a seat on the 25-member Politburo of the Communist Party of China between 2007 and 2012. [1]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Peoples Liberation Army Combined military forces of the Peoples Republic of China

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its founding and ruling political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC). The PLA consists of five professional service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. Units around the country are assigned to one of five theater commands by geographical location. The PLA is the world's largest military force and constitutes the second largest defence budget in the world. It is one of the fastest modernising military powers in the world and has been termed as a potential military superpower, with significant regional defense and rising global power projection capabilities. China is also the third largest arms exporter in the world.

Central Military Commission (China) Peoples Republic of China political bodies governing the military

The Central Military Commission (CMC) refers to the parallel national defense organizations of the Communist Party of China and the People's Republic of China: the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, a Party organ under the CPC Central Committee, and the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China, a central state organ under the National People's Congress, being the military branch of the national government.

Contents

Born to a working-class family in Liaoning province, Xu spent much of his earlier career in northeastern China. He moved to Beijing in 1990 to become political commissar of the 16th Group Army, later serving as editor of the PLA's flagship newspaper, the PLA Daily . In 1996 Xu became political commissar of the Jinan Military Region. He became Vice-Chairman of the CMC in September 2004. [2] He retired from office in March 2013.

Liaoning Province

Liaoning is a province located in the northeastern part of China, being the smallest but the most populous province in the region. The modern Liaoning province was established in 1907 as Fengtian or Fengtien province and was renamed Liaoning in 1929, also known as Mukden Province at the time for the Manchu pronunciation of Shengjing, the former name of the provincial capital Shenyang. Under the Japanese-puppet Manchukuo regime, the province reverted to its 1907 name, but the name Liaoning was restored in 1945 and again in 1954.

In the military, a political commissar or political officer, is a supervisory officer responsible for the political education (ideology) and organization of the unit they are assigned to, and intended to ensure civilian control of the military.

Jinan Military Region Former military region of China

The Jinan Military Region was a PLA Military Region located in the east of the People's Republic of China, covering the Shandong and Henan Provinces, which also form military districts. It appears that Yang Dezhi was one of the first commander of the Jinan MR, from 1958. It was considered a strategic reserve. It includes some of the area previously within the Wuhan Military Region, disbanded in 1985-88.

Xu was detained and put under investigation on suspicion of bribery in March 2014, in one of the highest profile corruption investigations in PLA history, and was expelled from the Communist Party in June 2014. [3] It was alleged that Xu had traded "massive bribes" for the promotion of officers under him during his time as Vice-Chairman of the CMC. Xu was undergoing legal proceedings and facing a court martial but charges were dropped after he died of bladder cancer in March 2015. [4] [5]

Bladder cancer urinary system cancer that results in malignant growth located in the urinary bladder

Bladder cancer is any of several types of cancer arising from the tissues of the urinary bladder. It is a disease in which cells grow abnormally and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include blood in the urine, pain with urination, and low back pain.

Early life and education

Xu was born in 1943 to a working-class family in the town of Wafangdian, Liaoning province; his parents were factory workers. [6] He attended No. 8 Middle School in present-day Dalian. He achieved high scores on his Gaokao exams and was admitted to the elite Harbin Military Engineering Institute in Harbin, where he studied electrical engineering. The institute was a feeder school for the army, and produced many graduates who later went on to become high-ranking officers in the PLA. In April 1966, just prior to the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Xu Caihou, along with all the students attending the institute, were mandated by the government to leave the military to take on civilian jobs. [4]

Wafangdian County-level city in Liaoning, Peoples Republic of China

Wafangdian, formerly Fuhsien (Fuxian) or Fu County, is one of the two "northern county-level cities", the other being Zhuanghe, under the administration of Dalian, located in the south of Liaoning province, China. The city is famous for its ball bearing industry. Wafangdian Bearing Factory is the largest bearing manufacturer in Asia and was initially built by the Japanese during World War II. Its area is 3,576.40 square kilometres (1,380.86 sq mi) and its permanent population as of 2010 is 942,197, compared to 1,024,876 registered with hukou permits. The city borders the prefecture-level city of Yingkou to the northeast.

Dalian No. 8 Senior High School(Chinese:大连市第八高级中学) is a public high school in Dalian, Liaoning province, China. Established in 1952, it was among the first high schools that received the title of demonstrative and province-level prominent school in Liaoning province. Its 60th anniversary was held in 2012. The school is located to the east of Xi'an road, Dalian. Dalian No.8 Senior High School was entitled as the first well-established school in Liaoning in 1981, and gained the ability of waiving the university entrance exam for its school-recommended students. The school also enjoys the membership of Union of National Prominent Schools(UNPS) and Research-Oriented-UNPS.

Harbin Engineering University Chinese university

Harbin Engineering University was founded in 1953 in Harbin, China. It offers more than 150 degree programs, 48 of which are conducted in English. Designated a Project 211 university, HEU is billed as a top institution for engineering and marine projects. It is also a Chinese Ministry of Education Double First Class Discipline University, with double first class status in certain disciplines.

Xu graduated in 1968, in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, and was sent to the countryside to perform manual agricultural labour for over a year on a military-run farm in Tangyuan County in China's northeastern hinterlands. [6] Subsequently, due to his being of proletarian class background (his parents were factory workers), he was allowed the 'privilege' of re-joining the army. Xu enlisted in the spring of 1970 as an officer cadet and was stationed in Jilin province. [4] After joining the officer corps, it took him four years to earn his first promotion. [6]

Cultural Revolution socio-political movement in China

The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until 1976. Launched by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, its stated goal was to preserve Chinese Communism by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society, and to re-impose Mao Zedong Thought as the dominant ideology within the Party. The Revolution marked Mao's return to a position of power after the failures of his Great Leap Forward. The movement paralyzed China politically and negatively affected both the economy and society of the country to a significant degree. An estimated 500,000 to 2,000,000 people were killed.

Down to the Countryside Movement Exile of Chinese urban youth to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution

The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement, often known simply as the Down to the Countryside Movement, was a policy instituted in the People's Republic of China in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result of what he perceived to be pro-bourgeois thinking prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong declared certain privileged urban youth would be sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there. In total, approximately 17 million youth were sent to rural areas as a result of the movement.

Tangyuan County County in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Tangyuan County is a county in the east of Heilongjiang province, China. It is the westernmost county-level division of the prefecture-level city of Jiamusi.

Career

After the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was eager to promote young university graduates as part of his military-reform program. Most of the commanding officers of the PLA at the time had only informal or middle school-level education. Beginning in 1982, Xu earned a series of quick promotions. Xu served in Jilin province for much of his early career, generally in roles that facilitated military-political relations.

Deng Xiaoping Chinese politician, Paramount leader of China

Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician who was the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1992. After Chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976, Deng led China through far-reaching market-economy reforms.

Jilin Province of China

Jilin is one of the three provinces of Northeast China. Its capital and largest city is Changchun. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west. The name "Jilin" translates to "Auspicious Forest" in Chinese, and originates from girin ula, a Manchu phrase meaning "along the river".

Xu became the political commissar of the 16th Group Army in 1990 and was promoted to major general shortly thereafter. In an incident upon moving to Beijing for work, Xu was offered an air conditioner to cope with the city's summer heat, as a gift from a classmate in university. He reportedly refused the offer, on the grounds that he did not want to have a privilege that his superior officer, who was managing without an air conditioner, lacked. [6]

Next, Xu served as the chief editor of the People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper; he stayed on the role for just over a year, being promoted again to lieutenant general in the process. In 1996, he became the political commissar of the Jinan Military Region, with a vast area of jurisdiction over military units in several eastern Chinese provinces. Xu's mission in facilitating "political affairs" in the military meant that, in practice, he was in charge of the promotion and performance evaluation of army officers. [6]

Central Military Commission

Xu Caihou met U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009. Xu and Gates.JPG
Xu Caihou met U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009.

In 1999, Xu was promoted to the rank of General ( Shang Jiang ), the highest non-wartime rank in the PLA, and also joined the Central Military Commission, in addition to taking charge of the General Political Department (GPD) as its executive deputy head. In December 2000 he was named the head of the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Central Military Commission, the military's anti-graft and disciplinary enforcement body. Xu's ascendancy in the military also resulted in his rise in the Communist Party's political hierarchy. In November 2002, he assumed full leadership over the GPD. At the party's 16th National Congress, Xu became a member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, a body in charge of the implementation of party policy. [4]

Xu's rapid promotions at around the turn of the century were attributed to the support given to him by then-Central Military Commission Chairman Jiang Zemin. [7] Observers believe that through Xu, Jiang continued to influence affairs in the military despite his official retirement in 2004; some retired officers simply described Xu and his partner of equal rank Guo Boxiong as "Jiang's proxy in the military." [8]

During his term as Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman, beginning in 2004, Xu wielded significant authority over personnel decisions in the upper echelons of the military. [9] Xu was seen by some observers as the day-to-day executive authority in the upper military ranks because CPC General Secretary and Central Military Chairman Hu Jintao, nominally Xu's superior, took a relatively hands-off approach to military affairs. [9] In 2007, he was named to the 25-member Politburo, being elected at the 1st Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee. Xu retired from the Central Military Commission in 2013.

Corruption allegations

"I used to work for Xu Caihou ... his method of doing things and choosing his people [for promotions] was, first, see how much money is involved, second, his personal affinity to them, and third, to rely on emotions and feelings. This was the worst part about his influence."

—Mj. General Yang Chunchang (March 2015) [10]

According to numerous reports in Chinese and international media, the practice of exchanging "cash for ranks" was widespread during Xu's term as Vice-Chairman; the practice was ostensibly common from the highest-ranking officers to the rank-and-file petty officers. [9] According to sources in the army, Xu's power during his CMC Vice-Chairmanship was largely unchecked, they cited an example where one officer attempted to bribe Xu with ten million yuan to secure a higher rank, another officer 'outbid' the first one with twenty million yuan (~$3.2 million), so Xu annulled the arrangement with the first officer. [10] Other accusations suggested that during Xu's term in office, an implicit set of prices were attached to each rank in the army as well as other 'privileges' such as party membership. [10]

It was reported in March 2014 that Xu, then aged 70, had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and was undergoing extensive treatment at the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing. [11] A corruption probe was opened at around the same time. There was speculation among some in the military that Xu would be 'spared' charges due to his ill-health. [11] Gu Junshan, one of Xu's allegedly favorite officers, who was promoted during Xu's years in office, had already been under investigation for a wide-reaching corruption scandal involving the military's real estate assets. [9]

Xu's supporters, pleading for clemency, said that having terminal cancer was akin to having already received the "death penalty," citing the precedent of former Vice-Premier Huang Ju as a case where corruption charges should not be pressed against an official in ill-health. [9] The decision to investigate Xu was reportedly made on 15 March 2014, when Xu was taken from his hospital bed by armed policemen. His wife, daughter and former secretary were also reportedly taken into custody. [9]

At a Chinese New Year gala for retired military officials in 2014, Xu reportedly tried to speak to Xi Jinping, who is the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, several times, without success. [9]

Expulsion from the party

Xu was expelled from the Communist Party of China on 30 June 2014. [12] State media described Xu's crimes as abuse of power, accepting bribes directly or via family members in exchange for promotions, and advancing the interests of those close to him through the powers vested in his office. [13]

Xu's downfall was unexpected because corruption investigations involving mid-tier military officers are rarely publicly announced in the People's Republic of China as to not compromise national security. Such an announcement involving a high-ranking general was entirely unprecedented. [14] Xu became the highest-ranked officer in the history of the People's Liberation Army to be investigated in corruption. During the investigation into Xu, investigators found over one tonne of cash in his Beijing home, along with precious gems, ancient artifacts, and artwork. It was said that much of the cash was still stowed away neatly in boxes marked with the names of individual officers, and that it took 12 trucks to transport all the materials confiscated from his home. [15]

Some analysts believe that Xu's downfall signaled a consolidation of military power directly under the hands of Xi Jinping and is of greater political significance than the corruption investigation surrounding Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee. [14] His downfall had been presented by the Communist Party as part of a wider campaign by Xi Jinping to eradicate corruption and reform the military. [12] In October 2014, Xu was reported to have confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. [16]

Death

Xu died in March 15, 2015 from bladder cancer and multiple organ failure at the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing at the age of 71, [17] likely during the annual "two sessions" ( Lianghui ) meeting of China's legislature and legislative advisory body. There is some speculation that his death was not announced until the conclusion of Lianghui on 15 March to avoid distracting from the proceedings of the nation's pre-eminent annual political gathering. [18] As a result of his death, military prosecutors announced that, "in accordance with legal procedures," they will not continue to pursue charges against him, despite having already filed suit in military court, but will continue work in investigating his "ill-gotten gains". [19]

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References

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  2. "China completes military power transfer". USA Today . 19 September 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
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  4. 1 2 3 4 徐才厚癌症恶化医治无效死亡. Sina. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  5. Chin, Josh. "Chinese General Who Faced Graft Inquiry Dies of Cancer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
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  7. "徐才厚走過軍隊光輝10年". EJI Insight. 2 July 2014.
  8. "Hu Jintao's weak grip on China's army inspired Xi Jinping's military shake-up: sources". South China Morning Post. 11 March 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Ex-PLA top general Xu Caihou held in cash for rank probe". South China Morning Post . 19 March 2014. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 "少将:徐才厚他们架空当时的军委领导人". Ifeng. Caijing. 9 March 2015.
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  12. 1 2 "China's Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe". South China Morning Post. 30 June 2014. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
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  18. "Was news of Xu Caihou's death buried? Speculation mounts on demise of former PLA general". South China Morning Post. 15 March 2015.
  19. "Former Chinese General Xu Caihou Dies of Cancer". South China Morning Post. 15 March 2015.
Military offices
Preceded by
Yu Yongbo
Head of General Political Department
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Li Jinai
Preceded by
Du Tiehuan
Political commissar of Jinan Military Region
1996–1999
Succeeded by
Zhang Wentai