Guards walk past the Chinese national flag. A top Chinese military officer has been exposed in rare revelations of corruption in the country's armed forces as China's leaders ramp up a much-publicized crackdown. (Getty Images)
BEIJING — A top Chinese military officer has been exposed as owning dozens of homes, gold statues and crates of luxury liquor, reports said Thursday, in rare revelations of corruption in the country’s armed forces.
The revelations about Gu Junshan, a former lieutenant general and deputy logistics chief for the People’s Liberation Army believed to be under investigation, came as China’s leaders ramp up a much-publicized crackdown on official corruption.
“There is grave corruption in the military especially in the logistics sector, but revelations on the military’s graft fight is always kept off the radar for the sake of the military’s image,” said the Global Times newspaper, citing an “anti-graft expert” who did not want to be named.
Gu owned dozens of apartments in central Beijing, and his mansion in Puyang in the central province of Henan housed several gold art pieces, the magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday after a two-year investigation.
The home was modeled on the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace in Beijing, covered one hectare (2.5 acres) and was dubbed the “General’s Mansion” by locals, it said.
Officials seized “a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong” along with “crates of expensive liquor” on the premises, it added.
Gu, who joined the military in 1971 after finishing junior high school, began handling military business operations in Puyang in 1985 and rose over the next decade to oversee logistics in the area.
His career trajectory saw him become deputy chief of the PLA General Logistics department in 2009, and he “profited from the projects and land deals” in which he was involved, Caixin said.
Gu’s name disappeared from an official list of his logistics department in early 2012 and eventually the entire defense ministry website, and he left his post that year, it said.
A corruption probe has not been officially acknowledged, and was only obliquely referred to when National Defence University professor Gong Fangbin referred to corruption by Gu and his predecessor in an interview last August.
But widespread coverage of this week’s revelations in China’s strictly controlled media indicated that authorities were willing to have news of Gu’s alleged misdeeds publicized.
His brother — whose home was next to Gu’s in Puyang, with the two sharing a long basement “filled with expensive liquor” — was arrested in August for bribery.
The account follows extensive Chinese media reports about government officials who have come under investigation, and repeated pledges by President Xi Jinping to fight corruption high and low.
The leadership has issued a raft of bans over the past year ranging from fancy banquets to expensive gifts, in an effort to deter endemic graft — which causes widespread public anger — and impose frugality.
This week the military was required to purchase only domestic-brand vehicles as a way to save money, the official news agency Xinhua reported.
The Global Times cited analysts as saying that “2014 will see an even harsher clampdown.”
But critics say the anti-graft campaign does not include any system-wide measures, such as requiring public officials to declare their assets.
Since taking power as party chief and top military commander in November 2012, Xi has taken steps to ensure control of the PLA and stressed the need for PLA loyalty.
The son of a revered revolutionary, Xi is said to have closer links to the military than his predecessor Hu Jintao.