'Corrupt' ex-general dies of cancer
THE highest-ranking Chinese military officer to fall victim to President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive has died of cancer, the official media reported yesterday, heaping opprobrium on his memory.
Xu Caihou had risen to become the second-most senior officer in the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA) as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and a member of the Communist Party's 25-strong Politburo.
He retired from the military in 2013 but was put under investigation last year and later expelled from the ruling party, stripped of his general's rank and handed to the judicial authorities for prosecution, although his death forestalls the possibility of a lurid trial.
Xu died of bladder cancer on Sunday, the official news agency Xinhua said. He was 71.
"Xu Caihou, the once-celebrated general who because of corruption lost both fortune and honour, ended his pathetic and shameful life on a sickbed under supervision," the PLA Daily wrote in a bylined commentary.
Xinhua said he took advantage of his position to assist others and accepted a "huge amount of bribes personally and through his family".
As a result of Xu's death, military prosecutors will no longer be pressing charges against him, said Xinhua. But they will "deal with his illegal gains according to law", it cited a statement as saying.
Since coming to power more than two years ago, Mr Xi has sought to impose himself on China's military, one of the targets of his wide-ranging anti-corruption drive.
Xu was the highest-ranking military "tiger" to be brought down, although critics say that without systemic reforms, the campaign risks being used for political faction-fighting.
Since Xu's fall, there have been multiple reports of his wrongdoings, including allegations of promotions being sold for tens of millions of yuan.
When an anti-graft team investigated the basement of his 2,000 sq m mansion in central Beijing, they discovered "a mountain of cash", jewels, paintings and antiques, according to Hong Kong-based magazine Phoenix Weekly.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STRAITS TIMES