CHINESE President Xi Jinping has struck a key blow in his battle against corruption with the expul-sion from the Communist Party of a former high- ranking military commander who had risen to near the apex of power.

Xu Caihou, who retired as vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission last year and from the party's decision-making Politburo in 2012, is the highest-ranking military officer to be accused of corruption in China. Mr Xu will be handed over for a court martial after being accused of taking bribes.

China's official Xinhua news agency said: "The party will never allow a hiding place for corrupt elements, the military will also never allow corrupt elements any place to hide."

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Both the party and the army, the agency said, had to understand "the long-term, complicated and arduous battle against corruption, and the need for the fight against corruption to be put in a more prominent position".

It added: "Upon investigation, Xu Caihou took advantage of his office, helped others be promoted to positions and accepted bribes directly or through his family, used his position to influence others for profit and his family members accepted valuables from others."

Mr Xu has been under virtual house arrest for months.