Visit our new website:

China Indicts Former Chongqing Party Chief on Bribery Charges

  • Thu, 15 Feb 2018 03:18

Authorities in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin have indicted a former top ruling Communist Party official for bribery, giving a rare public glimpse of an attempted palace coup at the highest echelons of leadership, analysts told RFA.

Former Chongqing party secretary and Politburo member Sun Zhengcai was indicted this week by the Tianjin prosecutor’s office, paving the way for his trial at the Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Sun stands accused of taking advantage of his posts to seek profits for others and illegally accepted huge amounts of money and property  during postings to Beijing’s Shunyi district, Beijing’s municipal party committee, Jilin province, while serving on the 25-member Politburo and as Chongqing party chief, it said.

A senior official has said that the investigation into Sun was sparked after authorities discovered his involvement in a “conspiracy” to overthrow President Xi Jinping.

The chairman of China's securities regulator Liu Shiyu told a meeting of top finance officials during the 19th party congress last October that the once-rising political star had plotted to seize power from the current leadership.

According to New York-based China scholar Xie Xuanjun, Sun’s ambitions were already widely rumored before his downfall.

“There were rumors going around last year, when they started investigating him, that his mistress gave him an imperial dragon robe as a gift, and lately this was confirmed by Caixin Weekly,” Xie told RFA.

“Palace plots run deep in the psyche of the Chinese, because the imperial families ruled by turns, and a lot of people wanted to become rulers, which was why Chinese emperors were always getting overthrown,” he said.

Xia Ming, a political science professor at the The City University of New York, agreed.

The Dragon Robe

“Everybody used to think that the real challengers to Xi Jinping were [jailed former Chongqing party chief] Bo Xilai and [former security czar] Zhou Yongkang, but now it turns out that Sun Zhengcai had his eye on the dragon robe as well,” Xia said.

Xia said Sun’s indictment will give out a strong message to any other potential challengers.

“Xi Jinping’s position as supreme ruler is now very solid,” he said. “He would be very hard to challenge, and anyone who tries it will wind up like Sun Zhengcai.”

Grassroots anti-corruption campaigner Ma Bo said the sheer number of high-ranking officials under investigation by the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) since Xi took power is strong evidence of a factional power struggle behind the scenes.

“I don’t think we can say that this is entirely about fighting corruption,” Ma said. “In-fighting and power struggles between officials can’t be ruled out.”

“We can only be sure that this is a real anti-corruption campaign when they start investigating those around the president, not just those who take a different line,” he said.

Anti-graft activist Duan Xiaowen called on the government to allow popular participation in the anti-corruption effort.

“I think that ordinary people can play an important role in the fight against corruption, and yet I have come under huge pressure [from the authorities],” Duan said.

But he added: “I plan to keep going with it, though.”

Former official expelled

Meanwhile, former deputy propaganda czar Lu Wei, once dubbed the “father” of the Great Firewall of government internet censorship, has been expelled from the Communist Party.

Lu is currently being investigated by the CCDI, and several of his associates and colleagues at the powerful Cyberspace Administration, which he headed until June 2016, have also been taken into custody by CCDI investigators for questioning, according to Chinese media reports.

Lu, 57, was greeted in Mandarin by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a December 2014 trip to the United States, during which he also told Apple's Tim Cook that Beijing would decide whether to allow products to enter the Chinese market.

He was last seen in public on Oct. 24.

Reported by Gao Shan for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

RFA Home


Popular Science

Related Stories

MP says Australian political donor bribed former UN president
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 18:39

The chairman of Federal Parliament's intelligence and security committee, Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, links an Australian political donor to funding a b...

Australian archbishop convicted of concealing child sex abuse
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 18:17

An Australian archbishop was found guilty on Tuesday of concealing child sex abuse by a priest, which Australian media said made him the most senior C...

China sentences Tibet advocate Tashi Wangchuk to prison
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 17:31

An activist for the Tibetan-language has been sentenced by a Chinese court to five years in prison for inciting separatism. Tashi Wangchuk was arreste...

Malaysia’s anti-graft chief says was threatened when probing ex-PM Najib
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 17:14

THE newly-appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief on Tuesday gave an emotional press conference detailing his ordeal while pursuin...

Chinese banks up the ante to lure millionaire clients from overseas private investment houses
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 16:15

A growing number of well-off Chinese are choosing to invest their wealth offshore, according to a latest McKinsey report, leaving domestic banks in an...

Why China remains unaffected by Vietnam’s blossoming manufacturing industry
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 15:18

With more and more manufacturing companies setting up shop in Vietnam, many see the nation as a natural competitor to China. But with both countries s...

Thailand: thousands of police block Bangkok march by 200 protesters on fourth anniversary of coup
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 14:09

Police in the Thai capital blocked a march Tuesday by pro-democracy activists protesting four years of military rule and calling for elections this ye...

People ordered to stay away as Indonesia’s most active volcano rumbles
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 13:08

Indonesian authorities raised the alert for the volatile Mount Merapi volcano on the densely populated island of Java and ordered people within 3 kilo...

Authorities looking into former Wake official's resort trips
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 12:10

Investigators reviewing former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick's financial history are looking into her stays at resorts on the Outer Bank...

Claims of 'illegal' adoption at former Marianvale home
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 11:21

A BBC investigation uncovers allegations of 'illegal' adoptions at a home run by Catholic nuns. BBC News - Northern Ireland

China wants no 'progressive' elements in any free trade deal with Canada: envoy
  • Tue, 22 May 2018 10:34

Lu Shaye, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada, addresses the media during a visit to Halifax on November 7, 2017. China's a...

News Categories