China’s anti-graft agency labels ex-Chongqing boss Sun Zhengcai a careerist politician, conspirator
Same charges levelled at already convicted ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang and former presidential aide Ling Jihua
The disgraced former boss of the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing, Sun Zhengcai, who was once touted as a possible future state leader, has been labelled a “careerist politician” and a “conspirator” by the Communist Party’s anti-graft agency.
The same charges, which were detailed in the work report presented by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection at the 19th national party congress that ended last week, but made public only on Sunday, were also levelled at former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and presidential aide Ling Jihua, both of whom are serving life prison sentences for corruption.
All three men had “inflated political ambitions” and “conducted conspiracies”, the report said.
“The party uncovered and dealt with [the alleged crimes] decisively, determined to eradicate these careerist politicians and conspirators, and thus eliminated serious political threats,” it said.
The CCDI had dealt with the officials implicated in the cases and comprehensively rooted out their “pernicious legacy”.
“Interest groups formed by intertwining political corruption and economic corruption have severely undermined the political security of the party and the country,” it said.
Sun, who became a member of the Politburo – China’s second highest decision making body – and party boss of Chongqing in 2012, was expelled from the party in late September after being placed under investigation in July.
Investigators were quoted by state media at the time as saying that Sun had “abandoned the party’s aims, forfeited his political stand and seriously trampled on the party’s political discipline and rules”.
He was also accused of abusing his power to benefit others, and of taking huge bribes for himself and his family. He is currently awaiting criminal prosecution.
Beijing-based political commentator Zhang lifan said that labelling Sun a careerist and a conspirator suggested the party wanted to publicise not only the corruption charges against him but also the political reasons for his downfall.
“The allegation means Sun may have challenged incumbent party leaders,” he said.
At a plenary meeting of the CCDI in January 2016, President Xi Jinping told officials that “there are careerists and conspirators in our party [who are] undermining the party’s governance. We should not bury our heads in the sand and spare these members but must make a resolute response to eliminate the problem and deter further violations”.
Xi also referred to the fall of senior cadres like Zhou, another former Chongqing chief Bo Xilai, top General Guo Boxiong and General Xu Caihou, as well as former president Hu Jintao’s chief of staff Ling.
In an article carried by People’s Daily on November 7, 2016, then anti-graft tsar Wang Qishan warned that, “[We] should be mindful of careerists and conspirators who attempt to seize the party and state power.”
After an inspection tour in February, discipline inspectors chastised Sun for not having completely rooted out the “pernicious ideology legacy” of his predecessor Bo and Bo’s right-hand man Wang Lijun.
At the start of the 19th national congress, Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, publicly criticised Sun, along with Zhou and Ling, for “plotting to usurp the party’s leadership and seize state power”.
The CCDI said in its report that over the past five years 440 senior officials, or “tigers”, had been detained subject to corruption investigations. However, it admitted that the “soil for corruption” remained and that it had yet to eradicate all of the “negative factors” inside the party.
It even went so far as to say that “a small number” of anti-graft agents were themselves corrupt, adding that it would continue to deal severely with disloyal cadres and those who incubate their own power factions and form interest groups.