China’s AVIC Executive Jailed for Taking Bribes

A former top executive of the Xi’an-based First Aircraft Institute under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) has been jailed for 6.5 years and fined 500,000 yuan ($75,000) for corruption and bribery.

The executive, Gao Li, 60, embezzled 392,000 yuan and took bribes worth about 2.68 million yuan, in the form of renminbi, British pounds, and goods and services, from individuals, including from a U.S. company and an Air Force institute, in procurements from 2009 to 2011, Global Times reported quoting WePolitics, a WeChat account affiliated with the Beijing Youth Daily.

Gao Li, 60, the former deputy director of the Xi’an-based First Aircraft Institute under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC).

Gao’s court verdict came after Hu Wenming, a former chairman of China’s shipbuilding conglomerate China Shipbuilding Industry Corp and former chief commander of China’s aircraft carrier program, came under investigation for suspected serious violations of discipline and law in May this year.

Recent graft cases involving senior executives of Chinese defense companies have sounded an alarm to the country’s arms sector, when China is facing increasing external military pressure and boosting national defense expenditure, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times.

As a part of the JH-7 fighter bomber program and winning awards for related work in 1998, 2006 and 2007, Gao became the institute’s deputy director in 2008 and special executive in 2015. He was reportedly arrested in late 2019 over bribery suspicion. He was convicted in May.

The First Aircraft Institute is China’s only national-level institute capable of designing medium-sized to large military and civilian aircraft including fighter bombers, bombers, transport aircraft and special mission aircraft, wepolitics reported. 

The First Aircraft Institute is China’s only national-level institute capable of designing medium-sized to large military and civilian aircraft including fighter bombers, bombers, transport aircraft and special mission aircraft, wepolitics reported. The institute has set many national records, including developingChina’s first domestically made fighter bomber the JH-7, the first large early warning aircraft the KJ-2000, and the first large transport aircraft, known as the Y-20, according to cannews.com.cn, a news portal affiliated with AVIC.

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China Central Television reported earlier this month that the nation is expected to develop and commission a world-class, long-range, stealth-capable strategic bomber much more powerful than the country’s current bombers, the H-6K and H-6N. It is widely speculated that this new bomber is called the H-20.

The development of a new, advanced aircraft is a collective effort, and a corruption case should not have a major impact on the program, as that would be easily spotted by other related units, analysts said, noting that it is not known if Gao was involved in any new aircraft development at all.

In May, Chinese state media reported that authorities were probing a corruption case pertaining to Hu Wenming, who was in-charge of the project to build the country’s first domestic aircraft carrier, Shandong. Earlier, Sun Bo, a former general manager of the company was sentenced to 12 years in prison over dishonest dealings. He is said to have leaked confidential information about China’s first carrier, Liaoning, that served as a template for Shandong, to foreign powers.

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