A number of China’s military chiefs have vanished with no official explanation since late June, leading to the assumption that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has begun a purge of the military. This has occurred even though military capability is more important to Mr. Xi than ever, as he has repeatedly instructed the People’s Liberation Army to “prepare for war.”
To some observers, this is reminiscent of Stalin’s purge of the Red Army between October 1940 and February 1942 amid an ongoing German invasion of the Soviet Union.
Yuan Hongbing, a Chinese scholar in exile with strong ties to individuals within the top echelon of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), told The Epoch Times that Mr. Xi now relies on his tight grip on state bodies to govern his officials.
Mr Yuan, a former professor of law at Peking University, now living in Australia, spoke to The Epoch Times on Sept. 13 about two supervisory agencies used by Mr. Xi.
Mr. Xi has an organization supervising Party and administrative officials and another overseeing military officials, he said.
The first organization has two systems—CCP’s General Secretary's Office and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), headed by Cai Qi and Li Xi, that are authorized by Mr. Xi to supervise senior CCP officials.
The Office of the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) oversees military officials, which is directly under the leadership of Mr. Xi. This office “replaced the original functions of the General Office of the CMC to a considerable extent and has become the most important supervisory agency [of the Chinese army],” Mr. Yuan said.
“The appointment of top military secretaries must go through this office for final approval. The procedure of appointment secretaries is one of the key links in its entire secret service, but it is not the whole link.”
A source within the CCP revealed to Mr. Yuan how Gen. Li Yuchao, the former commander of the CCP Rocket Force, became the target of Mr. Xi’s crackdown.
It turned out that Gen. Li’s secretary reported to the office of the CCP Central Military Commission that Gen. Li is a two-faced person, supporting Mr. Xi's strategy of fighting against Taiwan on the surface, while in private, he and his fellow Rocket Force officers believe that the CCP forces may have a high probability of failure if Beijing decided to attack Taiwan in the short term.
"Because of this revelation, Xi Jinping considered that the entire Rocket Force was politically disloyal to him and had violated his strategic arrangement of preparing to launch a war in the Taiwan Strait," Mr. Yuan said.
"Consequently, he carried out a comprehensive purge. The outsiders generally speculate that the shakeup of the Rocket Force is likely due to corruption, espionage issues, or personal life issues, but in fact, these are not the main concern," he said.
Disappearing Military LeadersIn June, news broke that Gen. Li had been taken away for investigation by the military's anti-corruption agency, along with Liu Guangbin, deputy commander of the Rocket Force, and Zhang Zhenzhong, former deputy commander of the Rocket Force.
On July 31, Mr. Xi appointed Gen. Wang Houbin, former deputy commander of the Navy, and Gen. Xu Xisheng, former political commissar of the Southern Theater Command of the Air Force, as commander and political commissar of the Rocket Force, respectively. This indirectly confirmed that Gen. Li, who is the former commander of the Rocket Force, and Xu Zhongbo, the former political commissar of the Rocket Force, were indeed in trouble.
In addition, Wu Guohua, a former deputy commander of the Rocket Force who had been retired for three years, died in Beijing on July 4 this year, but the authorities withheld the release of an official obituary until July 25. The obituary stated that he died of illness. However, a close friend from another family with deep roots in the Chinese military revealed on social media that Mr. Wu had hanged himself in the third-floor bathroom of his home.
Gen. Li Shangfu, China’s defense minister, was the latest to fall victim to such a “black box” vanishing in the Chinese military. He was last seen publicly on Aug. 29 at a China-Africa security forum in Beijing.