Chinese ‘political clique’ leader Sun Lijun faces life in jail for corruption as law enforcement purge winds down


China’s former deputy security minister Sun Lijun, who was accused of leading a “political clique” and being disloyal to President Xi Jinping, was jailed for life on Friday.

Sun’s sentencing came after five former police chiefs who were implicated in his corruption case were jailed earlier this week, indicating that the biggest purge in China’s security apparatus over the last five years is drawing to a close.

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The purge comes ahead of a major leadership reshuffle at the twice-a-decade Communist Party congress that begins on October 16, where Xi is expected to secure a norm-breaking third term in power.

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Sun, 53, received a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life in prison without parole after two years.

In June he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes totalling 646 million yuan (US$91 million) in exchange for business favours, government jobs and promotions; helping criminals evade justice; manipulating the securities market and illegal possession of firearms, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

All of his personal property and illegal gains will also be confiscated, CCTV said, citing a statement from the Intermediate People’s Court of Changchun in the northeastern province of Jilin.

The court statement said Sun had started to take bribes as early as 2001, when he was an official in charge of foreign liaison with the Shanghai health bureau. The corruption continued throughout his career, including as a senior official in the Shanghai government’s foreign affairs office and in various posts within the Ministry of Public Security.

Court documents said Sun had used his power to influence certain stocks’ trading price and trading volume and helped others avoid losses of more than 145 million yuan. He was also found guilty of illegally possessing two firearms.

This week the courts sentenced five other alleged members of Sun’s clique for corruption.

On Thursday former justice minister Fu Zhenghua, 67, and Wang Like, 57, who was in charge of political and legal affairs in eastern Jiangsu province, were both given suspended death sentences by the same court that sentenced Sun.

As with Sun’s sentence, these will be commuted to life without parole after two years.

On Wednesday, three former police chiefs were jailed by different courts in Hebei province. Gong Daoan, the former Shanghai police chief, was jailed for life; Deng Huilin, who held the same role in Chongqing, was given 15 years; and Liu Xinyun, formerly Shanxi’s top policeman, was sentenced to 14 years.

On other alleged member of Sun’s clique Liu Yanping, 67, the former disciplinary chief at the Ministry of State Security, was expelled from the party and dismissed from public office three weeks ago. He has not been arrested or charged so far.

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