Li Yuchao, commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force, deputy Liu Guangbin and former subordinate Zhang Zhenzhong have been “taken away by investigators” from the Central Military Commission’s anti-graft body, according to the report.
The probe began after Wei Fenghe, a former commander of the unit, retired as China’s defense minister in March, the report added, without saying whether he was implicated. No corruption investigations have been publicly announced against the people named in the article.
The defense ministry in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The inquiries come as President Xi Jinping faces other personnel issues: his handpicked foreign minister, Qin Gang, was mysteriously ousted from the role on Tuesday after he dropped from public view for a month. China has given no explanation for his removal.
Xi, who heads the CMC, has in recent weeks made several calls to strengthen the governance of the military and for the ruling Communist Party to command “absolute leadership over the military.”
Earlier this week, China’s military launched an inquiry into corruption cases linked to hardware procurement going back more than five years, urging the public to step forward with tips on wrongdoing.
The PLA’s Equipment Development Department listed eight issues it was looking into, including “leaking information on projects and army units” and helping certain companies secure bids. The inquiry will focus on experts who reviewed the tender process, the department said.
Separately, Wu Guohua, a former deputy commander of the Rocket Force, died on July 4 of an unspecified illness, Shanghai-based outlet The Paper reported on Thursday. That article was later deleted after it sparked intense discussion on Chinese social media over potential wrongdoing. The topic of Wu’s death had nearly 18 million views on China’s Twitter-like Weibo by midday on Friday.
The PLA’s Rocket Force was established in 2015 and assigned with responsibility for China’s nuclear arsenal and conventional missiles as part of sweeping military reforms.