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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

China’s Fallen Politburo Star gets Life Sentence for Corruption

Corruption is Everywhere - Certainly in Chinese politics

China's Sun Zhengcai, an ex-political star and one of the youngest Politburo members - seen as a potential contender for a top government position, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption.

The former Communist Party Secretary was convicted of illegally accepting more than 170 million yuan (US $ 26.7 million) in bribes, according to the First Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin.

Prosecutors also accused Sun of taking advantage of his position to seek profits for others in project bidding, project approval, enterprise operation and personnel promotion.

According to the prosecution, Sun had committed those crimes in the years between 2002 and 2017 during his time as a district party chief in Beijing, Minister of Agriculture, Political Bureau member of the CPC Central Committee and Party chief in north-eastern Jilin province and megacity Chongqing.

Sun pleaded guilty at an open court hearing held on April 12th. The large amount of illegally accepted money could have had Sun sentenced to death.

Chongqing, China

However, additional information that he told the investigation about his crimes and the fact that bribes were accepted by “designated parties” commuted the sentence. In order to retrieve his “illegal gains”, authorities are set to confiscate Sun’s property and he will be deprived of his political rights for the rest of his life.

The commutation here appears to refer to the 'life' sentence as opposed to the 'death' sentence.

Accused of seriously undermining the work of the state and disrupting the integrity rules for officials, Sun pledged to reform himself. One of the youngest members of the powerful Politburo, Sun told the court that he was going to accept the ruling with no intention to appeal it, Xinhua state news agency reported.

Xi has been promoting a massive anti-corruption campaign since he came to the office in 2012. Despite the fact that the campaign has been effective in prosecuting officials, some critics perceived this major ant-corruption crackdown as the president’s way of eliminating his political rivals.

In another recent high-profile case, high-ranking Chinese officer Zhang Yang, former chief of the powerful Central Military Commission’s (CMC) political work department, committed suicide while under investigation for bribery.

Those charged with serious bribery offenses are commonly sentenced to death in China. However the exact number executions is unknown as the figure is classified.

This is the communist way - eliminate your rivals to consolidate your power. Xi is probably doing just that. There is little doubt that just about anyone in the Politburo or any level of Chinese government can be accused of corruption. Only the most promising are likely to be. This ensures Xi's grip on power for many years to come, but also weakens the Politburo by eliminating some of its most talented and capable people. In the end, China will be weaker because of it.