The Chinese army has dismissed allegations that a former general’s death from cancer in an army hospital while being probed for corruption was caused by medical negligence.
Xu Caihou, 71, a former chairperson of the Communist Party of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, died of bladder cancer while under investigation for accepting huge bribes besides abusing his position; he was the highest-ranking military officer to be investigated on corruption charges.
At the time of his detention last year, unconfirmed reports had claimed that Xu, retired at that time, was allegedly dragged out of the hospital he was undergoing treatment for cancer.
The former general was diagnosed with cancer in early 2013.
After his arrest and expulsion from the CPC, few details were made public about Xu’s medical condition or the progress of the investigation.
The military procuratorate continued investigations till Xu’s death was announced early Monday by the state media.
Within hours, stung by allegations that Xu’s serious health condition was ignored, the PLA released a statement dismissing the allegations.
“Authorities paid great attention to treatment for Xu Caihou. After the authorities officially launched his graft investigation, he was treated well in the Chinese PLA General Hospital under surveillance,” military prosecutors were quoted as saying by the state media.
The armed forces’ newspaper, the PLA Daily, “slammed rumours that Xu died from political persecution or inadequate treatment…”
The commentary added that as per China's Criminal Procedure Law, military prosecutors halted the “charges against Xu as he died during the prosecution process, but would deal with his alleged ill-gotten wealth according to law”.
Last October, state media outlets carried a brief report saying that Xu had “confessed” to taking bribes.
Xu’s case – along with that of the disgraced former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang – has been frequently cited by state media as sterling examples of President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-graft campaign.
Xu’s arrest was followed by the launching of investigation against another former senior officer, the former logistics department head, Gu Junshan under broadly similar allegations.
On March 2, a day before the beginning of China’s two sessions of Parliament, the government released a new list of 14 generals who have been either convicted of corruption or placed under investigation.