Chinese general who committed suicide was target of graft probe

by WorldTribune Staff, November 29, 2017

A former top general on China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) who was under investigation for alleged corruption committed suicide, Chinese state media reported.

Gen. Zhang Yang

Gen. Zhang Yang, a former head of the powerful CMC’s political work department, hanged himself at his home in Beijing on Nov. 23, according to Xinhua.

A report posted on the website of the PLA Daily on Nov. 28 said: “Zhang, a paramount and powerful heavyweight, used such a shameful way to end his life.” It described his suicide as a “bad move to escape punishment.”

State media reports of corruption charges have been countered by overseas Chinese dissidents who say that some cases are the pruning of rivals in key positions by the increasingly powerful leader Xi Jinping.

The Xinhua report said Zhang, 66, had been linked to former disgraced CMC vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou.

Related: Xi Jinping proclaims ‘new era’ after silencing U.S.-based billionaire dissident, Oct. 18, 2017

The Xinhua report said Zhang had been caught up in the Communist Party’s anti-graft investigation to root out the “harmful influence left by Guo and Xu,” adding that Zhang had pretended to be a loyal official, but was a person without a “moral bottom line who severely harmed the party’s image.”

Guo, 75, a CMC vice-chairman between 2002 and 2012, is serving a life sentence in jail for graft. Xu, a CMC vice-chairman between 2004 and 2012, died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 72 while in custody and under investigation for graft.

A Guangzhou source said there was speculation in military circles that Zhang had given Guo more than 25 million yuan ($3.7 million) in bribes.

Xinhua said an investigation showed Zhang owned “enormous property holdings of unknown origin” – an indication he had taken bribes.

Zhang and former chief of general staff Gen. Fang Fenghui were left off the list of PLA delegates to the party’s national congress in Beijing last month.

In late August, state media reported that Fang had been replaced as chief of general staff by war hero Gen. Li Zuocheng, while Adm. Miao Hua had taken over Zhang’s political work in the CMC.

Sources close to the military told the South China Morning Post that both Zhang and Fang were taken away for questioning over corruption on the same day.

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