Another notable victim removed by Xi Jinping's ‘purges’
Convicted on corruption charges, former Deputy Security Minister Sun Lijun’s real “crime” was leading a faction “disloyal” to President Xi Jinping. As the latter props up his power on the eve of the Communist Party’s 20th congress, Deng Xiaoping’s “collective" leadership is no more.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – A court sentenced former Deputy Public Security Minister Sun Lijun to prison "for seriously damaging the unity of the Party”.
Sun, 53, was handed a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, state news agency Xinhua reported today.
The verdict comes on the eve of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which in all likelihood will grant Chinese President Xi Jinping a third unprecedented mandate.
It is not unusual in China for major trials to end with convictions in the lead-up to major events: a way to remind critics about who is the boss.
Officially, Sun was charged with giving and taking bribes worth 646 million yuan (US$ 91 million), manipulating the stock market, and owning two illegal firearms.
His real fault was heading a political clique that was “disloyal” to Xi, a claim fed by relentless state media coverage.
Sun’s group allegedly included former Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua and three former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi province, all of whom received heavy prison sentences.
All of them are also former Xi allies, used in his anti-corruption campaign against "tigers and flies". Fu especially led several investigations that brought down Zhou Yongkang, former security czar seen by Xi as an enemy.
Analysts note that Xi's greatest skill is his ability to shore up his power, weaken opposing factions within the Party, and eliminate potential rivals.
Since his appointment as CPC general secretary and the country’s president in 2012, Xi has managed to concentrate power in his own hands, violating the principles laid down by Deng Xiaoping, the father of China's economic openings in the 1990s and 1990s.
As noted China expert Willy Lam writes in China Brief, Deng sought to replace Mao’s one-man leadership with a form of "collective" management vested in the Politburo’s Standing Committee, a way to avoid the cult of personality and excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a single “great helmsman”.