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


Related Stories

Fed Gives Bullish Signals on Economy
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:15

Federal Reserve officials agreed last month that a strengthening economic growth outlook bolstered their plans to keep raising short-term interest rat...

Voices from Syria's former oasis: 'They will die, one by one'
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:07 - RSS Channel - App International Edition

The tiny new party that may hold the key to Italy’s election
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:45

RAFFAELE FITTO is a man in a hurry. The black limousine with darkened windows hurtling through the gathering darkness hits 160kph (100mph) as it rushe...

Pakistan PM says court ‘hinders democracy’ by banning deposed premier Nawaz Sharif from leading own party
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:09

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said a court order that barred former premier Nawaz Sharif from leading the ruling party and plac...

Coquitlam piano teacher makes 1st court appearance following 3 sex assault charges
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:25

Coquitlam piano teacher Dmytro Kubyshkin, also known as Dmitri, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault involving former students. A Coqu...

Organisers play down significance of US-Taiwan arms sale forum
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:15

The organisers of an event to be held in Taipei for Taiwan and the United States to discuss arms sales say they have not committed to hold the meeting...

North Korea Repositions Hacking Unit for Global Cyberattacks
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:11

One of North Korea’s three major hacking units, in a strategic shift, is hunting for overseas targets and not covering its tracks, according to a ne...

Nanjing massacre memorial condemns viral photos of ‘Japanese soldiers’ posing in the city
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:27

A memorial in Nanjing commemorating Chinese civilians massacred by Japanese troops in 1937, has condemned photos circulating online showing two Chines...

New sealed charges brought in case against ex-Trump campaign manager
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:05

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New sealed criminal charges have been filed in federal court in the case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against two ...

Former Google Employee Files Lawsuit Over Retaliation After Speaking Out About Diversity
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:04

Gizmodo reported on Wednesday that a former Google engineer is suing the company for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination...

Israel spy team called ‘Unit 8200’ foiled IS plot to bring down passenger jet from Australia
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 10:06

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that intelligence provided by his country foiled a plot by Islamic State to bring down a plane from Aus...

Rohingya Refugees in ‘No-Man’s Land’ Reject Repatriation Without Safety Guarantees
  • Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:15

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees living on a strip of unclaimed land along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border protested Wednesday against their repatriation t...

News Categories