On October 29 China‘s state-run news agency Xinhua published the full text of the work report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The report is divided into three sections: a review of the work done during the 18th Party Congress, an analysis of the past five years, and proposals for the next five years.
In the text the CCDI describes six former cadres, including Bo Xilai, Sun Zhengcai and Zhou Yongkang, as “big tigers” (大老虎), a Mao-era phrase that refers to powerful corrupt officials. The document calls them “conspirators” (阴谋家) and “careerists” (野心家), suggesting that they might have plotted to overthrow Xi Jinping.
The report criticizes the complicity between “political corruption and economic corruption” which “seriously harmed the political security of the party and the country.” It also denounces Zhou Yongkang, Sun Zhengcai, Ling Jihua and others for “seriously violating the party’s political discipline and regulations,” adding that their “excessive political ambitions led them to conspiratorial acts.”
The central authorities “timely discovered the plot, handled it with determination, rooted out these careerists and conspirators, and eliminated this great political danger,” the text says.
The six men named in the document are Zhou Yongkang (周永康), Sun Zhengcai (孙政才), Ling Jihua (令计划), Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄) and Xu Caihou (徐才厚).
Sun Zhengcai, the former leader of Chongqing City, was expelled from the party on September 29 for “serious violations of discipline.” He was a rising political star, and it was rumoured that this year he would be promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee, the most important political body of the Communist regime. Sun’s downfall became public in July, when state media announced that he was under investigation for having lost his “faith and belief” in Communism and for seriously violating “party discipline and rules.”
Bo Xilai, the powerful ex Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing, was sentenced to life in prison for corruption and abuse of power in 2012. Bo, too, was a rising political star with national ambitions.
Zhou Yongkang is a former member of the Politburo at the 16th Party Congress, of the Standing Committee of the Politburo and minister of public security. His career ended in 2014 when he was expelled from the party and arrested. One year later he was sentenced to life in prison.
Xu Caihou, a former general of the People’s Liberation Army, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and Politburo member, was arrested in 2014 on charges of corruption and died in custody.
Ling Jihua was the chief of staff of ex president Hu Jintao during his decade-long tenure. In 2016 he was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power.
The same year Guo Boxiong, an ex top general of the People’s Liberation Army and vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was sentenced to life in prison for corruption.
The anti-corruption campaign launched by Xi Jinping after taking office in 2012 is viewed as a political tool for the Chinese leader to get rid of powerful opponents and rivals.
According to a report by The Epoch Times, the downfall of the six former party cadres is a defeat for the faction of former president Jiang Zemin. The article suggests that Jiang’s allies were attempting to oust Xi Jinping. Bo Xilai and Sun Zhengcai were both prosecuted shortly before party congresses in which Xi Jinping sought to consolidate his position.
Willy Wo-Lap Lam noted that Xi Jinping inherited a party that was divided between three factions: the Shanghai faction of Jiang Zemin, the China Youth League faction of Hu Jintao, and the faction of the Princelings (family members of CCP leaders during the Mao era). Since taking office with the support of Jiang Zemin, Xi has sought to develop his own power base by ousting political rivals.
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