October 28, 2016 / 4:16 AM / 3 years ago

Two senior Chinese officers expelled from Communist Party

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ruling Communist Party has expelled from its ranks two senior military officers for corruption, state media said, part of President Xi Jinping’s sweeping campaign against graft in all sectors of the government.

In a brief statement late on Thursday at the end of a four-day party plenum, Xinhua news agency named the officers as Fan Changmi, former deputy political commissar of Lanzhou Military Command, and Niu Zhizhong, once a deputy commander of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police.

Xinhua said the party had confirmed previous decisions to expel them after endorsing a report into their “serious discipline violations”, the usual euphemism for corruption. It provided no details.

Fan had been put under investigation in 2014, but this was the first time the government had confirmed Niu was also caught up in a corruption probe, according to Chinese media.

It was not possible to reach either of them for comment and unclear if they have been allowed to retain legal counsel.

Serving and retired officers have said graft in the armed forces is so pervasive it could undermine China’s ability to wage war. Xi has made ending military corruption a top goal.

In July, a military court jailed for life a former deputy head of the powerful Central Military Commission, which runs China’s armed forces, for corruption, the latest in a string of senior officers to be felled.

The anti-graft drive comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry

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