November 29, 2017

Top Chinese Central Military Commission general in graft probe commits suicide by hanging in Beijing

Had made enormous property holdings of unknown origin

General Zhang Yang, a former head of the powerful Central Military Commission’s (CMC) political work department, committed suicide last week, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday.

A source close to the former Guangzhou Military Command told Zhang, 66, had hanged himself at his home in Beijing on the morning of November 23, and the news of his death had been relayed to all five PLA theatre commands over the past few days.

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A Xinhua report confirmed the circumstances of his death. It said Zhang had been linked to former disgraced CMC vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, and was suspected of serious disciplinary violations – a euphemism for corruption.
Guo, 75, a CMC vice-chairman between 2002 and 2012, is serving a life sentence in jail for graft. Xu, a CMC vice-chairman between 2004 and 2012, died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 72 while in custody and under investigation for graft.

Xinhua said an investigation showed Zhang owned “enormous property holdings of unknown origin” – an indication he had taken bribes. It said he had been living at home while under investigation.
An article posted on the website of the PLA Daily on Tuesday said: “Zhang, a paramount and powerful heavyweight, used such a shameful way to end his life.” It described his suicide as a “bad move to escape punishment”.

The article said the investigation of Zhang had been part of the Communist Party’s anti-graft work to root out the “harmful influence left by Guo and Xu”. It said Zhang had pretended to be a loyal official, but was a person without a “moral bottom line who severely harmed the party’s image”.
Zhang and another military heavyweight, former chief of general staff General Fang Fenghui, were left off the list of PLA delegates to the party’s national congress in Beijing last month.

In late August, state media reported that Fang’s had been replaced as chief of general staff by war hero General Li Zuocheng, while Admiral Miao Hua had taken over Zhang’s political work in the CMC.
Sources close to the military told the Post earlier that both Zhang and Fang were taken away for questioning over corruption on the same day soon afterwards.
Xinhua’s report of Zhang’s death said he had been summoned for questioning by the CMC on August 28.
Another source, based in Beijing, said Zhang and Fang were brought down by an internal political struggle ahead of the five-yearly party congress.
Former CMC vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong (left) and Xu Caihou. Photo: SCMP Pictures

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