A Chinese court has sentenced a former senior Communist Party official — once considered for a top leadership post — to life imprisonment for bribery, as President Xi Jinping presses ahead with his war on corruption.
The former Politburo member, identified as Sun Zhengcai, was found guilty on Tuesday of taking over 170 million yuan (26.7 million dollars) in bribes, according to a statement on the official website of China’s First Intermediate People’s Court, in the northeastern city of Tianjin.
The 54-year-old Sun, who had also served as Communist Party chief in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, was once considered for advancement to the Politburo’s elite seven-member Standing Committee, which is the country’s top decision-making body and is presided over by Xi.
Sun had been charged with abusing his official position to win profits for himself and others, according to prior court statements. He and his associates were charged with accepting bribes in return for providing assistance to unidentified organizations and individuals with engineering contracts, business operations, and other matters.
His actions, the court statement added, had “gravely damaged the normal work order of national organizations and harmed the integrity of conduct by national employees.”
The court also said that Sun had been handed a “lenient” sentence due to his cooperation with the judicial probe.
It also said that “property [stolen by Sun] has already all been confiscated.”
Sun was China’s youngest Politburo member and was regarded in some political circles as a potential successor to President Xi.
Senior party official Liu Shiyu congratulated Xi back in October last year for thwarting the efforts of powerful officials who “plotted to usurp the party’s leadership and seize state power.” Liu then identified former security czar Zhou Yongkang — alongside Sun and Bo — as being involved in a conspiracy that was at the time rumored to have also involved military authorities.
All three have been sacked from the ruling Communist Party and detained or jailed on corruption charges.