PLA nuclear force the latest target in China purge 

Top brass replaced amid allegations of ‘corruption’ a week after Foreign Minister Qin Gang is fired

China is in the grip of The Purge. Last week, Qin Gang was stripped of his role as foreign minister by the Communist Party’s rubber-stamp parliament after vanishing from public view for more than a month. 

On Tuesday, Beijing announced that it had replaced two senior officers involved in “managing” the country’s “nuclear arsenal.”

General Li Yuchao and his deputy Liu Guangbin were in charge of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force. Both went missing back in June amid rumors of a corruption crackdown in the PLA, the military wing of the Party.

“Many senior officers in the rocket force are implicated for corruption or leaking military secrets, an article in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper, reported on July 13,” according to the Asia Sentinel last month.

[It] marks the biggest irregular change among military leaders.

Financial Times

National security:

  • Those two words have become the bedrock of Xi Jinping’s presidency.
  • The Commander-in-Chief is obsessed with controlling every aspect of Chinese society, including the military.
  • Still, this is the biggest “shake-up” in the PLA leadership in almost a decade.

Delve deeper: “[It] marks the biggest irregular change among military leaders since Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, former deputy chairs of the Central Military Commission, were ousted more than a decade ago on corruption charges,” the Financial Times reported.

What happens next: Wang Houbin, the former deputy head of the PLA Navy, and Party Central Committee member Xu Xisheng will take over the roles in the rocket force.

Between the lines: “The latest purge is significant … [as] China is undertaking one of the most profound changes in nuclear strategy in decades,” Lyle Morris, of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said as reported by the BBC.

Big picture: The crackdown comes a week after diplomat Qin was replaced amid “accusations” that he had become “compromised by foreign intelligence agencies.”

China Factor comment: The Party’s addiction to secrecy means it is highly unlikely we will know the truth behind the disappearance of Qin, Li and Liu.