China continues its military purge, removing a prominent rocket scientist from a powerful political organization.

The latest indication of a growing purge in the Chinese military’s missile force and aerospace contractors is the expulsion of a prominent rocket scientist from its highest political advisory body by China. Wang Xiaojun was expelled from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Monday during a meeting in Beijing, barely one year after he was admitted as a member, according to state news agency Xinhua. No explanation was provided. Wang, 54, was the head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a prominent government-run organization regarded as the cradle of China’s aerospace sector, until recently.

 

On its official website, the CALT describes itself as the “oldest and largest base for the development, testing and production of missile weapons and launch vehicles” in the country. Wang worked as a rocket designer for almost thirty years at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CALT), a state-owned company that is a subsidiary of China Aerospace, the country’s primary space program contractor. The most recent upheaval in China’s military-industrial complex is the expulsion of Wang from the country’s senior political body. Three aerospace executives lost their positions in the CPPCC in December, one of them was the chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

 

Nine senior officers of the People’s Liberation Army were removed from the nation’s highest legislature two days later. Five of them are associated with the Rocket Force, an elite division established by Chinese President Xi Jinping to supervise the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile development. Although no explanation was provided for the December expulsions, specialists in China’s armed forces have long suggested that corruption was likely the root of the problem. This could have had to do with the acquisition and development of equipment for the Rocket Force, a highly lucrative and covert industry that receives billions of dollars in funding annually and provides an ideal environment for graft.

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