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19 June, 2024
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Missiles filled with water spark corruption scandal

Top officials ousted in Xi's anti-corruption campaign as missile mishaps unfold, according to a report from Bloomberg


Source: Business Insider

China's army fielded missiles filled with water instead of fuel and arrays of silos with improper lids — examples of military corruption that led to a dramatic purge of top officials, Bloomberg reported, citing US intelligence.

Bloomberg, which did not name its sources, reported on Saturday that the intelligence indicated Xi Jinping's recent ousting of more than a dozen senior commanders in the People's Liberation Army stemmed from serious issues of graft such as these.

The purge went so far as to ax even the Chinese defense minister, Li Shangfu, who disappeared for two months before being replaced in October.

US intelligence sources told Bloomberg that corruption was so severe in China's Rocket Force and the wider PLA that it would most likely force Xi to recalibrate whether Beijing can take on any major military action soon.

The Rocket Force is China's main military branch overseeing its nuclear weapons and has been a key focus of Xi's recent push to rapidly modernize Beijing's forces.

It's been especially central to China's posturing on Taiwan, with Beijing rolling out long-range missiles on its coast to threaten the self-governed island.

In 2021, researchers said satellite images showed China was constructing hundreds of nuclear-capable missile silos in the Xinjiang desert, allowing its arsenal to potentially rival those of Russia or the US.

But US intelligence said one example of corruption was that entire fields of silos in Western China were fitted with lids that prevented missiles from launching effectively, a source told Bloomberg.

The outlet did not say what sort of missiles had been filled with water.

The American assessment said these problems had likely undermined Xi's modernization policies and internal confidence in the Rocket Force's capabilities, the outlet reported.

Xi's purge was long speculated to be tied to his long-running anti-corruption campaign. For months, China has dodged questions on why so many high-ranking army officials were fired.

Of the recently sacked Chinese commanders, at least three held top positions in the Rocket Force, and four were responsible for equipment, Reuters reported.

The PLA has since emphasized staying vigilant against graft, citing a "battle against corruption" repeatedly in its New Year's Day statement.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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