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China expels two former defense ministers from Communist Party as military purge deepens


China on Thursday expelled its former Defense Minister Li Shangfu and his predecessor from the ruling Communist Party over corruption allegations, state broadcaster CCTV reported, deepening a sweeping purge within the top ranks of the military.

Li was removed in October last year without explanation after he vanished from public view for two months, amid a series of high-level shakeups that have roiled the world’s largest military.

Li’s mysterious disappearance and drastic ouster just months into his job fueled intense speculation, coming after the surprise sacking of two top generals of the PLA Rocket Force, an elite unit overseeing the China’s nuclear and ballistic missiles, also without explanation.

Thursday’s announcement is the first official confirmation from Chinese authorities that graft allegations are behind his dramatic disappearance.

In a sign of the scale of the high-level purges, Li’s predecessor, Wei Fenghe, was also expelled from the Communist Party Thursday over alleged corruption, according to CCTV.

Both Li and Wei were former members of the Central Military Commission (CMC) – a powerful body headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping who ultimately commands the armed forces.

Li was placed under the military’s internal investigation over “serious violations of party discipline and law” on August 31 last year, according to CCTV, two days after he was last seen in public at a security forum in Beijing.

A total of 137 students directional trained for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force participate in a see-off ceremony at Fuyang Institute of Technology and will set off for barracks on December 26, 2021 in Fuyang, Anhui Province of China.

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