China's Five Largest Military Depots Are Empty, Says Report

By Chen Fei, The Trend Magazine
January 6, 2007 Updated: January 6, 2007

China's military has been robbed of all military aircraft, tanks, armored vehicles, small arms, fuel, blankets, shoes, and other supplies stored in five of its largest depots, according to a report by a special investigation unit.

After two and a half years of investigation and evidence collection, under the supervision of the Central Military Commission, the 2004-5 Special Case Unit finished its report. The investigators included the General Staff Headquarters, General Armament Department, General Logistics Department and Military Discipline Inspection Commission.

The report concluded that outdated, discarded and replaced military supplies stored in the military depots in Baoji of Shaanxi Province, Dongchuan of Yunnan Province, Nanchong of Sichuan Province, Mayang of Hunan Province and Mengshan of the Zhuang Autonomous Region in Guangxi Province had been sold by affiliated military personnel.

2004-5 Special Case Unit Investigation

The 2004-5 Special Case Unit was set up early in May 2004 under orders from the Central Military Commission. Cao Gangchuan, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and defense minister, was put in charge of the unit with other high ranking military heads.

According to the report completed by the special unit, the depots named above were completely looted as a result of collusion between the military, local governments and enterprises, as well as prolonged periods lacking supervision and the breakdown of related management structures.

The following is information revealed in the report issued by the Special Case Unit.

360 MIG-15 Fighter Aircraft Were Sold as 'Scrap Aluminum'

Of the 385 replaced MIG-15 fighter jets stored at the military depot in Baoji, Shaanxi Province, only 25 were left for pilot training. Three-hundred-sixty were sold in batches as scrap aluminum and the transaction records had been destroyed. The MIG-15 fighter planes were sold for only 15,000 yuan (US$1,920) each.

Over 1,800 Tanks Dismantled and Sold for Parts

A military depot in Nanchong, Sichuan Province dismantled and sold over 1,800 Soviet-made T48 tanks, Soviet-made cloned T50 tanks, and armored vehicles at its depot. Since 1996, 1,200 outdated tanks, armored vehicles, and transport vehicles have been replaced annually. Of these, fifty percent are shipped to this depot in Nanchong. These discarded vehicles are routinely “taken care of” in private.

The engines from the dismantled tanks and armored vehicles can be sold for more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,280) each. The steel plate was sold to a local enterprise, Panzhihua Steel Manufacture. In 2005, all 700 T55 tanks were missing. Some are believed to have been sold to countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Nearly 300,000 Firearms Stolen

Over 273,000 firearms in a depot in Mayang, Hunan Province were stolen. Some have been smuggled abroad. These are Soviet-made small arms; T56 semi-automatic rifles from the 50s and 60s, T54 revolvers, and recently replaced type 63 pistols. Also sold were U.S. carbine rifles manufactured in the 1940s.

Strategic Fuel Reserve Stolen and Sold

A depot located in Dongchuan,Yunnan Province, is a major military fuel depot that includes 200,000 square meters (2,153,000 sq.ft.) of materials storage capacity. The depot distributes more than 500 million yuan (US$64 million) in materials and fuel annually and supplies the Southwest region for disaster relief, and other purposes.

At the time of the investigation, it was discovered that for 11 years, materials in storage have been sold in the open market by the Logistics Department and the income shared among many departments. In May, when fuel prices were high, three sales totaling 17,000 barrels of petroleum took place. The records of the depot, however, represent that the fuel was used in military exercises supporting local reserve forces and disaster relief activities that do not exist.

Tightening Inventory Control

Since year 2000, 25 to 50 billion yuan (US$3.2 billion to US$6.4 billion) worth of supplies are replaced and discarded annually. It has become a major source of profits for conspiring military and local officials.

The Central Military Commission and the departments of the General Staff, General Armament, and General Logistics have issued orders to conduct inventory and security checks of the military depots from January to June 2007.