U.S. intelligence has revealed why Chinese President Xi Jinping restructured his military cabinet, Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

Xi spent months in 2023 firing more than a dozen of his top military brass in China’s People’s Liberation Army and Rocket Force, some of whom “vanished” in the months leading to their firing or in the months after. Xi did this to root out widespread corruption and graft within his ranks that had greatly weakened China’s military, U.S. intelligence believes, according to people with close knowledge on the matter who spoke to Bloomberg.

Examples include a network of Chinese missile silos that were built so shoddily a missile could not be launched from them, according to Bloomberg. Some missiles couldn’t launch at all because their fuel tanks were filled with water instead.

Other examples include “leaking information” to outside actors and conflicts of interest in securing bids for certain companies, according to Bloomberg.

So great is the damage done to the PLA through corruption that Xi is less likely to launch a major military operation in years to come, according to Bloomberg. China’s biggest weakness in this case is its Rocket Force, which was a priority for Xi because it would play a key role in a Taiwan invasion.

The National People’s Congress, China’s legislative branch, ousted nine defense officials on Dec. 29, some of whom were in the PLA’s missile or armament corps, according to Bloomberg. China’s legislative advisory fired three state-missile developers days prior.

Chinese former defense minister and Rocket Force commander Gen. Li Shangfu was removed from his position in October; at that point, he had not been seen for months or in the months following. His removal was followed by another Rocket Force Commander’s expulsion in November, according to Bloomberg. It may be the biggest military shakeup in China’s modern history, according to Bloomberg.

Despite the revelation, U.S. intelligence still struggles to understand what is happening behind closed doors in Beijing’s government or what Xi’s plans long-term really are. “We have no real insight into leadership plans and intentions in China at all,” a former senior intelligence official with recent knowledge on the matter told the WSJ in December.

The White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Jake Smith on January 6, 2024

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