Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Battle against the enemy within

By Du Zhizhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-03 07:38

Efforts need to be made to increase transparency in the military to help eliminate corruption and ensure its fighting capabilities

It was announced on Monday that Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, had been expelled from the Communist Party of China for corruption following an investigation of three and a half months.

Military force is the security guarantee of the nation and its integrity is of special meaning to both the government and the people. However, the army does not exist in vacuum, it is composed of people, meaning it cannot be immune to corruption, and especially with the coming of the monied era, the People's Liberation Army has suffered from corruption, with many corruption cases involving military officers. So it is necessary to ensure the anti-corruption fight includes the PLA as well.

A capable army in the modern era needs modern equipment and logistic supplies, but more importantly, its senior officers must have the trust of the lower ranks in order to implement its missions. Corruption deals a fatal blow to that - nothing hurts more to the hearts of those tasked with defending the country than seeing their livelihoods being put into the pockets of their superiors or that every promotion and opportunity comes at a price.

It should also be noted that while corruption is more prevalent in peaceful times when the role of the military is not so evident, it can undermine the military's capabilities in times of war. There have been enough times in Chinese history, where armies with equal, or even better, equipment were defeated by their opponents because they were weakened by corruption, the price for that being the end of dynasties.

While the unquestioning obedience of the lower ranks to higher ones, which is essential in the armed forces, offers space for corruption, it also make it more efficient in fighting it. The army does not have too many complicated procedures, so it can more conveniently put corrupt officers on trial. The fact that the investigation into Xu's misdeeds was completed in three and a half months shows how efficient and strict the army can be in fighting corruption.

Xu's case shows that the leadership is determined to root out corruption in the military. This will be long and difficult task.

First, they need to be firm in dealing with anyone who is found to be corrupt, no matter how high his position is. There should be no forbidden zone. Only by fighting corruption without discrimination can the PLA win the trust of the people.

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