Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

PLA has to win the anti-graft war first

By Xu Guangyu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-18 08:10

PLA has to win the anti-graft war first

President Xi Jinping reviews the crew of the Liaoning, the country’s fi rst aircraft carrier, in Dalian, Liaoning province.

One after another, many corrupt military officers have been exposed. From Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, to lower-ranking officers, the list if corrupt officers is long.

But some people say the campaign to hunt down corrupt officers may hurt the image of the People's Liberation Army, without realizing that the move is aimed at protecting the integrity of the military. Just imagine what would happen if the corrupt generals remain in their posts. Wouldn't their corrupt ways endanger the PLA?

Media reports say the amounts of money which the corrupt officers have embezzled are unprecedented, making them the big "tigers". And the corrupt methods they have adopted range from auctioning off key posts to embezzlement in construction projects and the open trade of power for money. The country's top leadership has vowed to root out corruption from all walks of life, but it is necessary to remove the black sheep from the military first.

Corruption in the PLA is particularly harmful because it can destroy military personnel's sense of unity and ruin their faith in their career. If generals fill their pockets with embezzled money while ordinary soldiers sleep in ill-constructed camps, who will fight for the country when needed? And if officers paying bribes get promoted and the hard-working ones are sidelined, how many soldiers will remain devoted and loyal to the PLA?

Many times in history militaries have been defeated, not by the enemy, but because of internal corruption. In the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was defeated in a short time not only because of superior US firepower and strategy, but also because senior Iraqi military officers abandoned their posts after being bribed.

China's leadership certainly cannot allow the PLA to suffer that fate.

Chinese media and scholars often say the PLA is a "great wall made of iron and steel". With the ongoing anti-corruption drive removing the rust from the surface of this "great wall", the leadership is likely to take measures to ensure that it remains rust-free forever. Predictably, the PLA will strengthen supervision over power, establish mechanisms to prevent officers occupying key posts from engaging in corruption, and educate officers to adhere to honesty.

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