China anti-graft watchdog probes Politburo member
BEIJING, China (UPDATED) – The Chinese Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog has launched an investigation into a Politburo member who was once seen as a contender for a top leadership post, state media reported Monday. July 24
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Sun Zhengcai, who until a week ago was party chief in the major city of Chongqing, for "serious discipline violation", Xinhua news agency said.
Sun is the first serving member of the 25-person Politburo to be placed under investigation since Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in 2013 in the wake of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.
Xinhua's brief report did not say whether Sun would remain a member of the Politburo. His replacement as party chief in Chongqing was announced on July 15.
The shake-up in Chongqing comes as the Communist Party prepares for a congress later this year that will likely cement Xi's position as the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation.
At the gathering, Xi is widely expected to secure a second five-year term.
But all eyes will be on who will depart or ascend to the Politburo's standing committee, the elite group of seven politicians who run the world's second largest economy.
Sun, who was replaced in the city by former Xi aide Chen Miner, had once been tipped for promotion to the exclusive body.
Remove Bo's 'bad impact'
Bo Xilai was also once the party chief in Chongqing, the country's fourth largest city and an industrial metropolis in the southwest of the country.
Bo was rumoured to be part of a network plotting to stop Xi from assuming control of the party in 2012, and Sun was tasked with erasing Bo's influence on the city.
But in February party discipline inspectors publicly rebuked Sun for failing to get the job done, leaving his future in question.
Shortly after replacing Sun, Chen was quoted as saying by a local daily that the city must "resolutely remove the bad impact" of Bo's case.
Sun's downfall has raised Chen's profile.
Chen first worked with Xi in 2002, when the latter became party chief of the eastern province of Zhejiang.
In late 2012 the former propaganda chief's career kicked into overdrive following Xi's ascension to the head of the Communist Party.
Chen became governor of the southwestern province of Guizhou in 2013, adding the title of party secretary in 2015. – Rappler.com