China: Senior military official commits suicide amid corruption probe

A former member of China's Central Military Commission has committed suicide after authorities opened a corruption probe against him. Zhang Yang was being investigated over his ties to two corruption-tainted generals.

A top Chinese military official under investigation for corruption has committed suicide, the Defense Ministry and state media said on Tuesday.

Zhang Yang (pictured above), a former member of the powerful Central Military Commission, was "suspected of giving and taking bribes" and the origin of a large amount of his assets was unclear, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the commission.

"On the afternoon of November 23, Zhang Yang committed suicide at home," the Xinhua report stated.

Read moreChina's corruption 'tiger hunt' - A political weapon for Xi Jinping?

Alleged ties to corrupt generals

The probe against Zhang, who was the director of the military's Political Work Department, focused on his suspected links to two corruption-tainted former generals.

He allegedly had ties with Guo Boxiong, who received a life sentence for graft in July 2016, as well as Xu Caihou, who died of cancer in March 2015 while on trial.

Both Xu and Guo were former chairmen of the Central Military Commission — which is chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Xi's sweeping anti-graft campaign

Over 1.3 million Communist Party officials, including top members of the military, have been punished for corruption since Xi came to power in 2012.

Xi's anti-graft campaign has particularly focused on China's military, which is currently undergoing a modernization campaign.

Read moreChina's Communist Party enshrines 'Xi Jinping Thought' in constitution

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Both serving and retired officers have said that corruption in the armed forces is so pervasive that it could affect China's ability to wage war.

However, some are skeptical of Xi's campaign to restructure the military, with critics saying the process has allowed the president to remove potential opponents and place allies in leading positions.


President Xi Jinping

With the inclusion of the "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" in the constitution of the Communist Party (CPC), the president has taken a huge step toward consolidating his leadership beyond 2022. Xi has been given the customary second five-year term as the CPC's general secretary and has laid the foundation for a possible, unprecedented third term.


Premier Li Keqiang

The 62-year-old Li is primarily responsible for China's economic and social affairs. As prime minister, Li has also been working on minimizing air pollution. He is the only member of the committee apart from Xi to remain in his place. The other five are newcomers who replaced those who retired having reached the unwritten age limit of 68.


CPC administrative head Li Zhanshu

Li Zhanshu is a close confidant of President Xi's. He heads the CPC's General Office. A former governor of the northeastern Heilongjiang province, Li often accompanies Xi on foreign trips. Li and Xi have been friends since the 1980s, when they worked together in Hebei province.


Vice Premier Wang Yang

Wang Yang is an economist and a former party chief of Guangdong province. For a brief period, Wang was an advocate for social and political reforms in the country. He is responsible for foreign trade, including commerce between the United States and China.


Strategist Wang Huning

Sixty-two-year-old political scientist Wang Huning served as a policy researcher under Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Under Xi, Wang has kept his position as head of the Central Policy Research Office. He coined the terms "Three Represents" and "Scientific Outlook Development" — respectively, Jiang's and Hu's contributions to party thought — and the "Chinese Dream" as part of Xi's vision.


CPC organizational chief Zhao Leji

Sixty-year-old Zhao Leji (right) studied philosophy at the prestigious Peking University and began his political career in the western province of Qinghai. Since 2012, Zhao has headed the CPC's powerful Organization Department, which oversees personnel decisions. Zhao and Xi are both natives of Shaanxi province in central China.


Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng

Han Zheng, 63, has been the mayor of Shanghai for the past 15 years. In 2007, when Xi briefly became the party's secretary for Shanghai, the two worked together in China's financial hub.

rs/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)