One of Chinese military’s rising stars, General Cai Yingting, has been demoted by eight grades to become a battalion commander over his alleged links to disgraced senior commanders and daughter’s marriage to a Frenchman. Cai, a former president of the Academy of Military Science and the deputy chief of general staff before President Xi Jinping started overhauling the military in 2013, has been demoted from the Grade 2 post of “military leader” to the Grade 10 position of “battalion leader”, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. Possible reasons for his downfall included his daughter’s marriage to a Frenchman, which he failed to report through the proper channels, and his association with disgraced senior commanders, the paper said, quoting several sources close to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high command of the military headed by Xi, has not made any public announcements but news of Cai’s demotion started circulating in military circles on Sunday, the report said. Cai, 64, had retired from the military academy last year, two years before he reached the PLA’s maximum retirement age.
Under normal circumstances he would have kept his senior rank after retiring from the academy. His last public appearance was on August 6 last year at the funeral of the former Jiangsu Communist party chief Shen Daren, where he was listed as being among the “retired cadres” along with former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. The ministry of national defence did not comment on his demotion. Cai had been seen by many as a rising star since Xi promoted him to become the youngest serving general at the age of 59 in 2013.
One official said Cai had made a mistake when his daughter married a French citizen and he did not report it to the CMC in a timely fashion, the Post reported. The CMC “just learned about it (the marriage) after being tipped off by a whistle-blower”, it said. Xi started a national anti-corruption campaign in 2013 and one focus has been senior figures with family connections outside China, which is seen as a way of funnelling money out of the country.
Over 50 top generals including two former Vice Chairmen of the CMC were punished in the massive anti-graft campaign carried which also enabled Xi to consolidate his power in the first five-years of his rule as head of the ruling Communist Party of China (CMC), Presidency and the military.
Xi began his second five-year term in March and expected to remain in power for life following the abolition of constitutional amendment removing the two-term limit for the President. One official said Cai’s demotion was actually a “safe landing” to let him have an “easy retirement”. “Compared with other retired senior officials, Cai has lost political and social status, as well as official preferential treatment, but at least it’s a safe landing for him, with no need to spend the rest of his life in Qincheng Prison,” one source said.
Qincheng, known as the “tiger cage”, houses many disgraced senior officials, including the former security chief Zhou Yongkang and former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai. As a former senior military leader who knows so many state secrets, Cai needs to live in a specific place during rest of his life, the Post reported.