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China ousts top rocket scientist from key political body in widening military purge

China has recently expelled Wang Xiaojun, a renowned rocket scientist, from its top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). This move comes amidst a broader purge within the Chinese military’s missile force and aerospace industry.

Wang, aged 54, was removed from his position as a CPPCC member just a year after his appointment, although no specific reason was provided for his expulsion. He previously held a leadership role at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a prestigious institute pivotal in China’s aerospace development.

CALT, often hailed as the nation’s premier facility for missile weapons and launch vehicles, has played a significant role in China’s space program. Wang’s dismissal follows a pattern of shakeups in China’s military-industrial complex, with several aerospace executives and high-ranking military officers being ousted from their positions in recent months.

While the reasons behind these expulsions remain undisclosed, experts speculate it could be part of a corruption crackdown within the Rocket Force, a secretive and lucrative sector responsible for the nation’s nuclear and ballistic missiles. This sector has seen abrupt leadership changes and scrutiny over procurement practices.

Wang, known for his contributions to China’s space endeavors, particularly the development of the Long March 7 rocket, has received accolades for his work in advancing the country’s aerospace capabilities. His removal from the CPPCC marks a significant development in China’s military and scientific landscape.

Despite his achievements, Wang’s sudden expulsion underscores the opaque nature of China’s military and political spheres, where even prominent figures are subject to swift and unexplained dismissals. As Wang’s successor takes over at CALT, the implications of these personnel changes for China’s aerospace ambitions remain to be seen.

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