‘China missiles filled with water, not fuel: US intelligence’ – Times of India

The recent removals of many senior military officers from China’s Rocker Force and national legislative body show that President Xi Jinping is not yet done with purge and restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army(PLA). This latest purge has particularly impacted the Rocket Force, a crucial branch of the PLA responsible for tactical and nuclear missiles.As is the norm in China, no reason was given for the removal of these officials.
Prior to these events, there was a sudden dismissal of defence minister Li Shangfu in October, after prolonged speculation regarding his location. Subsequently, Dong Jun was named as the new defence ninister by China, filling a strategic position that had been vacant for several months.
Since assuming power in 2012, Xi has launched an extensive anti-corruption campaign targeting Communist Party and government officials, with the PLA being a primary focus. The dismissed generals come from various divisions, including former commanders of the PLA Rocket Force, an Air Force chief, and a Navy commander responsible for the South China Sea, along with four officers in charge of equipment.
China missiles filled with water, not fuel’
According to a Bloomberg report, US intelligence agencies have raised concerns about China’s military capabilities, citing corruption within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The report, which references sources familiar with US intelligence assessments, links the recent dismissal of several high-ranking Chinese military officials to pervasive corruption in the PLA.
The corruption is reportedly most severe within China’s Rocket Force, which has seen significant investment in recent years. Instances of malpractice include missiles being filled with water instead of fuel and the construction of missile silos with defective lids that hinder effective launch capabilities, the Bloomberg report said.
These revelations have led US officials to believe that Chinese President Xi Jinping might be less inclined to engage in major military actions in the near future. The corruption within the rocket force and defense industrial base is seen as undermining Beijing’s confidence in the PLA’s overall capabilities.
These developments represent a challenge for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has invested heavily in military modernization with the aim of establishing a “world-class” military by 2050. Despite a defense budget that has grown faster than the economy in recent years, the ousting of these generals and military equipment suppliers has cast a shadow over Xi’s efforts, raising concerns about the oversight of these vast military investments amid strategic competition with the United States, particularly regarding Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Despite these challenges, the Bloomberg report emphasizes that Xi Jinping’s position remains strong. His actions in dismissing senior military figures are interpreted as a demonstration of his firm control over the Communist Party and his commitment to improving discipline, eliminating corruption, and preparing China’s military for long-term combat readiness.
‘More heads will roll’
According to a Reuters report, Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, predicts further dismissals, especially within the Rocket Force.
“More heads will roll. The purge that centred around the Rocket Force is not over,” Wu said.
The extent of this crackdown, especially involving the Rocket Force, is unprecedented and alarming, given its role in managing China’s nuclear weapons.
“The strategic nuclear force is what China relies on as the bottom line of its national security, and the last resort on Taiwan,” Sun said. “It will take some time for China to clean up the mess and restore confidence in the Rocket Force’s competence and trustworthiness. It means for the time being, China is at a weaker spot,” Yun Sun, Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, told Reuters.
(With inputs from agencies)

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