BEIJING (AP) — A former Politburo member once seen as a rising star in Chinese politics has been charged with bribery, becoming the highest-ranking serving official to be ensnared by President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign, now in its sixth year.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the indictment of Sun Zhengcai, the former Communist Party leader of the western megacity of Chongqing, on its website Tuesday.
The announcement said Sun “illegally accepted huge amounts of money and goods” from others in return for providing them with benefits.
The indictment focused on bribery but leaders have made it clear Sun’s alleged offenses were largely political in nature.
The chairman of China’s securities regulator said at a major party meeting last year that Sun and other senior figures prosecuted in the crackdown were “conspiring openly to usurp party leadership.”
Sun was expelled from the party and dismissed from public office in September because he was suspected of “serious discipline violations,” a phrase that usually refers to bribery and other graft.
Sun, 53, sat on the Politburo and had been seen as a candidate for promotion to the body’s Standing Committee, the select group of leaders who constitute the apex of political power in China.
He was removed suddenly from his Chongqing post and replaced by protege Chen Min’er, who is tipped to be promoted to the Politburo, but not its Standing Committee.
Sun had been identified most closely with the China Youth League faction associated with Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, which Xi has effectively sidelined in the succession process. His expulsion will help ensure that Xi’s supporters hold strong majorities on both the Politburo and the smaller Standing Committee.