Once considered a serious candidate to be promoted to the top echelons of power, Sun Zhengcai’s prospects no longer look so bright after it was announced on Monday that he was under investigation by China’s anti-corruption watchdog for “suspected serious violations of discipline.”
Until one month ago, Sun was riding high as the Communist Party head of the booming metropolis of Chongqing. But, in June, he was abruptly replaced by Chen Miner, another rising political star with close connections to Xi Jinping. Yesterday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) finally announced that it was carrying out an investigation into Sun.
Of course, Chongqing is the old stomping grounds of none other than Bo Xilai, China’s most famous fallen cadre whose political ambitions were crushed in 2013 after a dramatic corruption scandal surrounding himself and his family came to light, ending with him being sentenced to life in prison.
While Sun was not nearly the showman that Bo was, he was still considered to be a contender for a spot in the top leadership. However, sources told Reuters that he failed to do enough to distance himself from Bo’s unsavoury legacy. (In contrast, only days after taking over, Chen Miner demanded that Chongqing officials do away with the “evil legacy” of Bo.)
The investigation into Sun comes only a few months before the much-anticipated 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China where Xi is expected to consolidate his hold on power by appointing his close allies to top positions. Meanwhile, there is also speculation that Xi will begin laying the groundwork for a third term as Chinese president.
Since taking power in 2013, Xi has launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign which has snared both “tigers and “flies” — including many of Xi’s political enemies. According to the CCDI, more than 210,000 officials were punished for corruption during the first half of 2017 alone.
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