Top Chinese general commits suicide amid graft probe

Top Chinese general commits suicide amid graft probe
A high-ranking Chinese officer, the former chief of the powerful Central Military Commission’s (CMC) political work department, Zhang Yang, committed suicide, according to Chinese state media. The general was under investigation for bribery.

Zhang Yang hanged himself at his home in Beijing on the morning of November 23, but the news was not released by Chinese Xinhua news until Tuesday. The former member of the CMC, which is in charge of the overall administration of the armed forces, was under investigation, as he was allegedly linked to two disgraced high military officials.

The 66-year-old general was suspected of offering and accepting bribes and holding a huge amount of property and “had seriously violated discipline and law,” according to investigators cited by Chinese media.

Zhang Yang is the most senior military officer to commit suicide amid the ongoing investigations targeting corruption within the ranks of the People’s Liberation Army, according to local media. 

The Chinese military called the Yang’s suicide “disgusting conduct” as he evaded party punishment, according to the PLA’s official website.

Both officials with whom the deceased general was suspected to have links, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, used to serve in the CMC as vice-chairmen. Guo is serving a life sentence for bribery, and his former counterpart was under investigation for graft when he died in 2015 while in custody.

The PLA commentary added that “the case of Zhang Yang shows that a lot still needs to be done in eliminating the pernicious influence of Guo and Xu…as well as in the fight against corruption.” The military also vowed to continue the crackdown on corruption, saying that they should “eradicate any virus that corrodes the health of the PLA.”

Under President Xi Jinping, China has launched a massive anti-graft campaign, with at least 13,000 military officers having been investigated over the past five years, according to local media. Earlier, several other suspected officers killed themselves while under investigation.

Those charged with “especially serious” bribery offences are sentenced to death in China. However, the exact number executions is unknown, as the figure is classified.