- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

BEIJING (AP) - Inspectors have uncovered widespread irregularities and suspected corruption among military units based around Beijing, China’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday, a sign that a widening anti-graft campaign that is turning to the sprawling 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army.

The ministry said in a statement that the inspections in the Beijing and Jinan Military Regions were carried out directly under the authority of the Central Military Commission, headed by president and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

It said multiple leads were obtained concerning problems with the handling of promotions, discipline among officers, land transfers, the construction and allocation of buildings and military medical services.

The ministry said those cases would be further investigated and publicized “for their deterrent effect,” raising the likelihood that offenders would be brought before military courts.

The announcement said the inspections were carried out between Dec. 10 and March 13, with the initial results presented at a meeting last Thursday.

The PLA has long been dogged by a culture of bribery, corruption and power abuse. Promotions and plum assignments are sometimes secured by providing payments or favors to higher ranking officers and military assets, especially land, used for private economic benefit.

Officers enjoy official vehicles, housing and generous benefits in return for pledging their loyal to the ruling party, rather than to the Chinese state.

The son of a leading Chinese general, Xi is seen as commanding greater authority with the armed forces than either of his two predecessors, although he risks losing some of that support if he comes down too hard on military privileges.

On Monday, the military said it was charging Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power. Gu had been deputy head of the People’s Liberation Army’s General Logistics Department, a position offering him powers over procurement and contracts with which to allegedly amass a vast fortune.

No word has been given on when and where Gu would be tried, and legal expert Yu Xiao, writing in the military’s official newspaper PLA Daily, said proceedings may be held in secret since they could involve military secrets.

“The investigation and Gu’s trial is important and will have an active and far-reaching impact on cracking down on graft in the PLA,” Yu wrote.

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