Disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai is expected to be stripped of his membership of the legislature this week, as Beijing scrambles to put an end to the country's worst political scandal in decades ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle.
A decision on Bo, a Politburo member, will likely be put to a vote at the end of a five-day session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee that began yesterday and is held every two months, say analysts.
Several draft laws will also be introduced for their first reading at the session, including a much-anticipated revision of the Environmental Protection Law.
The national legislature did not mention Bo by name in its announcement of the session's agenda, but state media highlighted an item that said a decision on the NPC membership of individual deputies would be reviewed.
"Bo must be one of the deputies awaiting such punishment, while it may also refer to other deputies, who are usually notoriously corrupt officials," said Professor Hu Xingdou , a Beijing-based political analyst.
Professor Jiang Mingan , a law expert at Peking University, said it was expected that the party would try to put the Bo scandal to rest before this autumn's 18th party congress, as the case had become a source of contention among the party elite and had overshadowed the looming leadership shake-up.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai , was this month given a suspended death sentence by a court in Hefei for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last November.
Bo, who was sacked in March and then suspended from the Politburo in April after his wife was found to have been involved in the murder, has been under investigation and accused only of unspecified violations of party discipline.
Jiang said: "We have seen the verdict for his wife, which showed that the authorities must have wrapped up the probe into Bo and reached a consensus on how to handle his case, starting with the steps to first incriminate him politically."
He said that once the party dismissed Bo from the legislature, it was expected he would be expelled from the party - effectively ending his political career - at the next Central Committee meeting, to be held shortly before the opening of the congress at a date not yet announced.
Another NPC deputy, disgraced former railways minister Liu Zhijun , will reportedly be stripped of his membership during the NPC Standing Committee meeting, ahead of his trial for corruption.
The standing committee will give the third, and probably final, reading to a revised code of civil law, and legislators are expected to start deliberating revisions to the Environmental Protection Law.
The first potential overhaul to the environmental law since its adoption in 1989 is being closely watched, as the country's pollution woes worsen.
"We have warned authorities for years against the growth path of 'pollution first and clean up later', which was proved disastrous by industrialised nations long ago, but we have seen little sign of an actual departure from that path, despite all the talk of scientific development and the emergence of so many 'cancer villages'," said Professor Lin Jingxing from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.