Former Chinese security official jailed for life ahead of Communist Party meeting

Hong Kong

China’s former public security minister Sun Lijun has been sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges, state media reported on Friday, as a purge of officials escalates ahead of the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress.

Sun, 53, accused of leading a “political clique” in China’s security establishment, was given a suspended death sentence by a court in northeastern China, with two years suspended, with no possibility of commuting to life in prison. parole, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Sun was found guilty of accepting 646 million RMB (roughly $90.44 million) in his various official capacities from 2001 to 2020, Xinhua reported, adding that he “manipulated stock prices and trading volumes” to avoid losses of 145 million RMB. He was also convicted of illegal possession of two firearms.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s anti-graft watchdog, launched an investigation into Sun in April 2020, and expelled him from the Communist Party in September 2020. He was accused of corruption and having “horribly inflated political ambitions”.

In January, China’s Ministry of Public Security called a stern meeting to denounce the “harmful influence” of Sun’s “political clique,” which the ministry said had “seriously damaged the Party’s unity” and seriously damaged its political security.

Other members identified as part of the “political clique” were also given long prison terms this week.

Fu Zhenghua, China’s former justice minister and deputy police chief, was convicted of accepting bribes in the same court as Sun on Thursday. Fu’s dramatic fall has grabbed headlines in China, where he was once seen as a rising star and loyal ally of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

In 2013, Xi appointed Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security czar and retired member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s apex power, to head the probe. Zhou was jailed for life in 2015 on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

This week’s rulings come just weeks before the 20th Party Congress in October, where Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as China’s supreme leader.

Sun and Fu are among high-ranking officials prosecuted in China’s domestic security agency crackdown and crackdown on disloyalty, which critics say has also been used to purge Xi’s political rivals.

Beginning in 2020, officials in China’s domestic security apparatus were asked to “turn the blade inward and remove the poison from the bone” and expose “two-faced people” who are disloyal and dishonest to the party.

In an interview last year, Beijing-based political analyst Wu Qiang told CNN that the series of purges shows the Chinese leader’s fragile trust in the country’s security agencies.

“It is very difficult for Beijing to have political trust. This is the biggest crisis of his government,” he said. ,