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China Just Purged A Top Retired General For $12.3 Million In Bribes, Here’s Why It Matters

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Retired Chinese General Guo Boxiong of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) just got life behind bars Monday in an unprecedented move by President Xi Jinping to crack down on corruption.

The 74-year-old former top military leader was the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission from 2002-2012. Guo was a major player in Chinese politics, having also been in the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. He stands accused of taking $12.3 million in bribes over the years to shuffle around assignments of army officers.

Matthew P. Funaiole, a fellow with the China Power Project of the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington D.C. spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation, explaining the importance of Guo’s incarceration. Funaiole told TheDCNF that, “it shows just how important [Xi’s] anti-corruption campaign is in general.”

Funaiole told TheDCNF Guo’s prison sentence shows Xi is trying “to solidify his power,” and, “it does signal that military reforms continue to be important for China.” Funaiole elaborated that, “what it means from a foreign policy perspective is, China is very serious about having a modern military.”

“The days in which China was a strong economic power and its military was sort of languishing behind are over, and they’ve been over for a while,” Funaiole said. “The real foreign policy point here is that again, this is another signal that external observers can look at, to see that the military modernization is ongoing and its targeting not just technology [development], but individuals as well.”

Xi is seeking to make an example of the military leader as he has vowed to make tackling corruption at the highest levels of Chinese society a top priority. Guo was charged in April for his misdeeds, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

There has not been a prosecution of this nature targeting a senior PLA official since 1949. CCTV-America, the American division of Chinese-state broadcaster CCTV, reports Guo is now “deprived of his political rights for life and stripped of his rank as general.”

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