The general office of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC)—the Communist Party’s top agency for overseeing military affairs—recently issued a set of regulations to conduct a financial and disciplinary audit of high-level military and armed police forces. Former Navy commander Wu Shengli was among those on the list for investigation.
The regulations will take effect on July 1, according to a report by the official military newspaper, PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Daily. The regulations require audits of retired senior officials who held the rank of major general and above. It also includes PLA and armed police personnel who have retired within a year. As Wu is already three years into his retirement, military sources told Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao that his investigation seems “unusual.” He served as the PLA Navy commander from August 2006 to January 2017.
Red princeling Cai Xiaoxin posted photos and comments about Wu’s investigation on Chinese microblogging website Weibo. Cai said, “It [investigation] has been delayed.” A “princeling” refers to the descendant of a prominent and influential senior Communist Party official.
According to Hong Kong media HK01, this audit was led by the Navy Audit Group of CMC. The group was stationed in the naval base in Beijing in early June, and the audit is expected to be completed in mid-July.
Wu was in the Navy for 41 years and held various posts, according to his official resume. In 2004, he served as deputy chief of the general staff of the army. In August 2006, he served as the Navy commander. He has been in charge of the Navy for 11 years. Wu became a member of the CMC in March 2008. All his military duties were removed two years ago.
In 2015, Chinese media reported that Wu was suspected of breaching discipline.
When Wu resigned as Navy commander In 2017, media reports suggested that he was under investigation.
Political analysts have different readings into why he fell out of the Communist Party leadership’s favor.
Some cite an incident during his post as the Navy commander (August 2006 to January 2017), when a naval political commissar committed suicide at the naval compound in Beijing on November 2014.
Wu could have been implicated for gross negligence and shady dealings with the executives of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), a key contractor working on the PLA’s new vessels and carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, according to a report by Hong Kong news media Asia Times. In June 2018, the general manager of CSIC was investigated and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Its CEO was investigated on May 12 this year.
Gao Wenqian, a historian of the Chinese Communist Party, told Voice of America that between Dec. 25, 2016 and Jan. 11, 2017, Wu led the training exercise of the aircraft carrier Liaoning near Taiwan. The exercise exposed the weaknesses of the Navy, such as aircraft on the Liaoning being unable to take off at night. Party leader Xi Jinping was deeply annoyed and thus replaced Wu with the new commander, Gao claimed.
A military analyst in Beijing, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD that when Wu was president of the Dalian Naval Academy (1994-1997), he was very close to Bo Xilai, then Dalian mayor (1993-2000). At the time, Bo resided in the Dalian Naval Academy instead of staying in the municipal committee compound.
Bo was sacked and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 after his involvement in an attempted political coup to usurp Xi. Since then, the Party has initiated investigations on many of Xi’s political rivals, usually on corruption-related crimes.
While it is unclear if Wu is considered a political rival, his past connections to Bo could have gotten him into trouble.