China investigates second top officer for graft - sources

China investigates second top officer for graft - sources
China's General Guo Boxiong

BEIJING - China is investigating a second former top military officer on suspicion of corruption, two independent sources told Reuters, as President Xi Jinping widens his campaign against deep-rooted graft in the country.

Guo Boxiong, 72, was a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission until he stepped down in 2012. Another former vice chairman, Xu Caihou, was put under investigation last year for corruption.

Before their retirement, the men had been two of China's top military officers who served together under Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao. Xi was also a vice chairman with Guo and Xu from 2010-2012, before he became head of the party and military commission chief.

Serving and retired military officers have said graft in the armed forces is so pervasive it could undermine China's ability to wage war. In one case, a senior officer has been accused of making millions of dollars from selling hundreds of military positions.

The government announced an investigation into Guo's son, Guo Zhenggang, a deputy political commissar of the military in the eastern province of Zhejiang, on Monday. He had just been promoted to a major general in January.

"Guo Boxiong himself is in trouble and is being investigated," a source with ties to the military told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The announcement about his son was a message" to the public about the father's probe, the source added, without elaborating.

A second source with ties to the military confirmed that Guo was being investigated, but provided no other details.

China's Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Guo sat on the Central Military Commission, in charge of the world's largest armed force of around 2.3 million personnel, for more than a decade, having risen through the ranks after joining the army in 1961, according to his official biography.

In 2006 he visited the United States and met then-defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The Chinese government has fuelled speculation about his fate with a commentary carried on the website of the Communist Party's People's Daily late on Monday, headlined: "You know what signal the fall of Guo Zhenggang sends".

It was widely picked up by other Chinese media.

"When it comes to fighting corruption in the military, the best part of the show is yet to come," the commentary said, prompting a flurry of responses on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, that the father was the real target.

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