Missiles filled with water rather than fuel among reasons for Chinese military leadership purges

| January 9, 2024

Xi Jinping had recently sacked military leaders in China’s Rocket Force. One issue that they discovered was water where there was supposed to be fuel in many missiles. China expanded on its missile silos, but many of these silos had improper lids. These lids would’ve obstructed their missile’s launches. Graft was among the reasons for these mistakes. The extent of this corruption undermined Xi Jinping’s modernization efforts.

From Business Insider:

China’s army fielded missiles filled with water instead of fuel and arrays of silos with improper lids — examples of military corruption that led to a dramatic purge of top officials, Bloomberg reported, citing US intelligence.

Bloomberg, which did not name its sources, reported on Saturday that the intelligence indicated Xi Jinping’s recent ousting of more than a dozen senior commanders in the People’s Liberation Army stemmed from serious issues of graft such as these.

The purge went so far as to ax even the Chinese defense minister, Li Shangfu, who disappeared for two months before being replaced in October.

US intelligence sources told Bloomberg that corruption was so severe in China’s Rocket Force and the wider PLA that it would most likely force Xi to recalibrate whether Beijing can take on any major military action soon.

Business insider has the rest of this story.

Category: China

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“purge” and “sacked” Is that Chinese for “.32 caliber bullet to the back of the head”? Since the Chinese are so good at stealing ideas from us, maybe we should steal that idea from them and do a little “purge” and “sacked” ourselves?

Anna Puma

Compare and contrast with Where in the World is Lloyd’s efforts to root out extremism in the military.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

“….missiles filled with water instead of fuel….”
How were the Chins going to launch the rockets? Pump them full of air, release the latch, and let the water push them into the air?
(those were fun toys when we were young)

Amateur Historian

It would be fun watching a Chicom nuke go off in such a manner.

The whole idea of having a large nuclear force is that it is never used. Some general figured that out and came up with a retirement plan.

RGR 4-78

Hopefully he bugged out before he was found out. If not, his IRA paid well right up until his untimely death.

Prior Service

Taiwan to launch a full preemptive strike in 3. 2…. (Well, I wish.)


This smacks of the types of things we used to hear about in the USSR back in the day. They are endemic to authoritarian government systems.

Sometimes it’s corruption, sometimes it’s just self-preservation. When a commander is being told “get those missiles in the silos by x date or you’ll be sampling the hospitality of the gulag”, they’ll get the missiles in the silos, even if that means they’re filled with water instead of fuel. They’ll get those lids on even if they don’t work and won’t allow the missiles to launch…etc.


I think the problem the Russians had was that the missile crews were drinking the fuel.

Amateur Historian

“In Soviet Russia, road forks you.”

Boy, is that getting old.
-Peter Griffin


Only if it’s alcohol, kinda hard with IRFNA and kerosene.
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Last edited 3 months ago by Anonymous

I hear it’s pretty good if you cut it with a little avgas.


Horse Hockey. If you believe that I have a Government Surplus Littoral Combat Ship to sell you. Practically new, vibrates a little high speed, likely needs an alignment check….

It is endemic to ALL governments. Whenever a whole lot of money meets up with a lower paid government official there will be some form of corruption.


Granted, corruption exists everywhere, but Littoral Combat Ships weren’t just shells filled with water.

Something as obvious and egregious as that to me smacks of more than simple corruption.

I could be wrong, of course, but that’s just my impression.

And it doesn’t even have to be the threat of the gulag that prompts people to do really dumb things that they know they’ll never get away with long term:

I was on the Enterprise (the aircraft carrier, not the spaceship) during one of its interminable yard periods. She was already close to two years overdue, a captain had recently been relieved over it and the new captain was determined to get that ship out of the yards.

Many of the living spaces were being rehabbed by ship’s company rather than the yard birds. Our department was responsible for our berthings, offices and heads. We had the offices and berthings done except for some painting and polishing, but we had ordered sinks, toilets and urinals for the heads, but hadn’t received them yet…and we weren’t the only department in that boat, so to speak.

The new captain, in his zealous quest to get the ship done, issued an edict that any department with unfinished spaces would be working port and starboard (two 12 hour shifts) 7 days a week until the spaces were complete.

To say it lightly, that didn’t sit well. It quickly became a contest as to who could steal the required parts from other departments the most brazenly. This wasn’t the normal “acquisitioning” of spare parts from other departments like always goes on aboard ship; toilets, sinks and urinals were being stripped out of fully functional heads (even in officer country, which raised the stakes significantly) and were magically being found installed in the heads of other departments with outstanding orders for parts…until they were stolen by another department.

And we weren’t under threat of the gulag…just working 80 hour weeks.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

The Good Soldier Svejk.


Example: “Deliver this important message to HQ”
GS Svejk takes message to HQ, but never delivers it to anyone…..because he was not told who to deliver it to.

(see also: Catch 22)

Last edited 3 months ago by President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Dobry Vojak S’vejk. Gotta love a country (C’ech) whose national military hero is like a cross between Beetle Bailey and Gunner Asch.