Du Jincai, who was groomed by two disgraced top military leaders, has hit retirement age, but his departure could be a prelude to an investigation.
The top graft-buster within the world’s biggest army, with close ties to two disgraced former vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, has stepped down.
A front-page report by the People’s Liberation Army Daily on Tuesday said Lieutenant General Zhang Shengmin, secretary of the commission’s Discipline Inspection Commission, had chaired an enlarged meeting of the anti-graft agency in Beijing on Monday, confirming that Zhang had replaced General Du Jincai. Sources said the reshuffle could be because Du, 65, had reached retirement age, but there are concerns over his close ties to military officers implicated in corruption.
The South China Morning Post reported in January that Du would be among the 18 full generals to leave their positions amid the massive ongoing leadership reshuffle ahead of the Communist Party’s congress later this year.
Other retired, top officers who are expected to depart include General Liu Yazhou, a political commissar for the PLA’s National Defence University and a prominent writer on military matters. The list also includes General Cai Yingting, the president of the army’s Academy of Military Science, as well as General Jia Tingan, a protégé of former president Jiang Zemin.
One source said that Du needed to step down because of his age.
But his close links with former commission vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou have fuelled speculation that he himself might also be investigated.
Guo, 75, was jailed for life for corruption in July last year, while Xu died of cancer at age 72 while in custody on March 15, 2015.
“Du was fostered and promoted by Guo and Xu as their protégé when the two were in the commission for more than a decade, since the early 2000s,” the source said.
Du’s departure has “further indicated President Xi Jinping’s determination to clean up all pernicious influence left by Guo and Xu before the party’s congress in autumn”.
Another source close to the military said the latest move indicated the commission, which Xi chaired, had amassed enough evidence to pursue an investigation into Du.
Du’s successor Zhang, 59, served with the Second Artillery Corps for decades.He was promoted last October to political commissar of the newly founded Logistic Support Department.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Zhang Shuguo, 56, and Lieutenant General Zheng He, 58, have been promoted to top roles within the theatre command of the PLA, according to the website of the National People’s Congress.
However, the notice did not specify which commands the two generals had been appointed to.
By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post