China jails ruling party member for life over graft

China jails ruling party member for life over graft

Beijing, May 8 A former top Chinese Communist Party official, who was accused of plotting a coup against President Xi Jinping a year ago, was today sentenced to life imprisonment for taking United States dollars 26.7 million in bribes.

As the youngest politburo member, Sun was even seen in some quarters as a potential successor to Xi.

Prosecutors accused Mr. Sun of taking bribes over a 15-year period during which he held leading positions in Beijing, at the Ministry of Agriculture, in the northeast province of Jilin and finally in Chongqing.

The China Central Television and Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the former official had pleaded guilty and agreed with the verdict.

Sun said he would not appeal the sentence.

Sun said he admits his crimes and is sincerely repentant.

One of China's most high-profile politicians, Sun Zhengcai, once seen as a likely candidate to be China's next leader, was sentenced to life in prison for taking almost $27 million in bribes.

In September, the party's internal discipline watchdog formally expelled Sun from the party, saying (link in Chinese) he had become "highly bureaucratic, lazy and ineffective, led a degenerate and corrupt lifestyle, engaged in money-for-sex transactions". 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.

During the conference, Sun, and a former party boss in Chongqing, Bo Xilai, were accused of being part of a plot to usurp the power of the Communist Party.

Recall that Sun, 54, was abruptly removed in July from his post as party chief of Chongqing, one of China's most important cities and was replaced by Chen Miner, who is close to Xi.

Critics have compared it to a political purge.

Sun had been identified most closely with the party's China Youth League faction associated with Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, which Xi — who also heads the ruling party — has effectively sidelined in his consolidation of power.

The Chinese president said in April, though, that he is opposed to life-long rule, arguing that the move to amend the constitution was definitely misinterpreted by foreign observers.

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