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Can corrupt armies win wars?

Following the conviction of a top general for graft, China’s official military newspaper warned that corruption can weaken an army and eventually destroy its ability to fight and win.

“If we allow the growth and spread of corruption, the guns will rust, the pillars will collapse,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily said.

The front-page editorial appeared after the graft conviction of General Gu Junshan. He was sentenced to death following a three-year investigation.

The death sentence was suspended, which in China usually means the defendant will instead serve life in prison.

Gu was head of logistics for the People’s Liberation Army. He was convicted of bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation, and abuse of power.

Last year, police raided Gu’s Puyang City villa and confiscated four truckloads of luxury items, including a golden wash basin, a statue of Chairman Mao Zedong, and boxes of high-end Moutai liquor.

Prosecutors said he bribed Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, to climb up the army ranks. Xu and Guo have both been charged with corruption.

Gu took kickbacks from real estate developers who bought or developed military land, prosecutors said. He also traded state-controlled goods such as steel, lumber, and oil to enrich himself.

Top military jobs in China have long been available to the highest bidders, according to some reports. Reformers have said the practice leaves those with talent on the sidelines.

“History has repeatedly proven that if corruption is not eliminated, we will defeat ourselves even before a war,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily said.

Sources: Caixin (财新网), Sohu (搜狐网), BBC, 81.cn (中国军网), Global Times

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

Hui Zhi is the Senior Manager for Content with ethiXbase Pte Ltd.

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