China expels nine army officials

Published December 31, 2023
A file photo showing Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech at the closing ceremony for China’s National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2023. — AFP
A file photo showing Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech at the closing ceremony for China’s National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2023. — AFP

BEIJING: China has expelled nine military officials from its parliament, including four generals of the army’s strategic missile unit, in a sweeping reshuffle following the appointment of a new defence minister.

The decision, announced late on Friday by the state news agency Xinhua, came after a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party. No explanation was given for the officials’ removal.

Their removal is one of a series of high-level restructuring moves in the military establishment since defence minister Li Shangfu was abruptly sacked in October following months of speculation about his whereabouts.

Appointed in March, Li disappeared from public view in August before being formally dismissed in October. On Friday Beijing appointed Dong Jun as the new defence minister, ending a months-long vacancy in the strategic post.

Recent months have also seen an overhaul in the leadership of China’s secretive Rocket Force, the army unit that oversees Beijing’s nuclear arsenal, following media reports of a corruption probe involving its former chief.

The nine officials fired on Friday from the National People’s Congress sat in parliament as non-elected representatives.

Their dismissal “suggests that those officers are being probed and confirms some of the rumors circulating on the topic”, says US-based SinoInsider, a firm specialising in Chinese politics.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2023

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