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Xi’s purges also target military, civilian corruption

Jan 12


The disappearances of high-level Chinese figures from both civilian and military offices have provoked criticism of Xi Jinping’s perceived ruthlessness in his efforts to consolidate power within himself. However, analysts point out that in some of these cases, there’s more at play than just the ambitions of one man.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan looks at the role that state and military corruption plays in Xi’s decisions about who stays or who goes. In the end, Zeihan argues, these disappearances are not always about Xi himself, but are sometimes instead about the deeper corruption within Chinese state and military organizations.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s Jan. 12 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

I had a handful of y’all point out that not everyone in the recent Chinese purges was targeted for political reasons; instead, many of these folks are facing corruption charges.

The level of corruption within the Chinese military is unknown, but I bet it’s more widespread than most people think. Between the missile silos that lack functioning hatches and the ballistic missiles filled with water instead of fuel, China is experiencing a Russian level of corruption.

The extent to which this has impacted and will continue to influence China’s military readiness and modernization program is expected to be significant. So, for all my non-Chinese viewers out there, I hope you get a good chuckle out of all this.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here, a few of you wrote in yesterday, pointed out rightly that there is corruption in the Chinese government. And it’s not at not everything that Xi Jinping is doing is a purge of personnel for political reasons. I mean, that’s the primary thing. But it’s not the only one. He’s already pushed a quarter of a million people into corruption charges. But for the military, specifically, we’ve had a few things that have kind of bubbled up over the last few days that are just a riot. So we now know that the guy who was in charge of the country’s missile forces, as well as the Secretary of Defense, were in part dismissed last year because they had been siphoning money off from the pyramid process. And at some point over the summer and the fall, Xi Jinping discovered that all of those missile silos that the government has been building out in western China to achieve some sort of strategic parity [with] the United States, a lot of the hatches don’t open. And, but that’s not the best part. The best part is that for a lot of the intercontinental ballistic missiles, instead of fuel in the tanks, they just filled them up with water. And that is something that, you know, you would expect to get kind of caught on. So, you can only imagine how much stuff down the line has been lied about and stolen. But the only country that we can compare here to this level of theft would be Russia. We now know from the Ukraine War that probably two thirds of the funding that Putin has allotted to the military over the last 15 years were just stolen.


I have no idea what the percentage is going to end up being for China. I’m sure it’s a lot higher than people were expecting. The only specific incident that I can think of where this fuel tank water issue is even a meaningful comparison is back in the 90s when Russian MIG maintenance crews started siphoning off the coolant from the MIGs in order to drink it, because it was cheaper than buying alcohol. The scale of this appears to be just massive, and obviously it’s going to have an impact on the readiness and the expansion of the modernization program of the Chinese military. Anyway, so this is kind of a yes, but or a yes, and to yesterday, and everybody, I hope you get a good chuckle out of it. Unless of course you’re Chinese, in which case you know, tough.

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