Xi Jinping ‘warns his opponents’ with suspended death sentences to former top cops — Radio Free Asia

Authorities have handed down suspended death sentences to two former senior security officials ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th Party Congress next month.

The Changchun Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern province of Jilin handed down a death sentence, which can be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, to Sun Lijun, a former vice minister of public security, for accepting bribes, manipulating the stock market and illegally possessing firearms.

“After the expiration of the two-year reprieve, his sentence will be converted to life imprisonment, without the possibility of commutation or parole, according to the court’s decision,” reported the CCP-backed Global Times newspaper.

From 2001 to April 2020, Sun used the influence accumulated through previous positions to seek gains for others and illegally accepted money and property worth 646 million yuan, the newspaper quoted the court verdict as saying.

In the first half of 2018, Sun manipulated related individuals to engage in stock market trades, helped certain individuals avoid losses of 145 million yuan, and was found in possession of two illegal firearms, it said.

Sun, 55, failed to stay true to the party’s ideals and displayed “extremely inflated political ambitions and very poor political integrity”, made baseless criticism of party policies and spread political rumours, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“Sun unscrupulously cultivated personal supporters and interest groups for personal political gain,” it said. “He also seriously undermined party unity and compromised political security.”

In this photo taken from video footage operated by China's CCTV, former Chinese Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua is escorted by judicial police as he attends a court assembly to announce his sentence in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin province, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 Credit: CCTV via AP
In this photo taken from video footage operated by China’s CCTV, former Chinese Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua is escorted by judicial police as he attends a hearing for his sentencing in Changchun, northeast China’s Jilin province, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. Credit : CCTV via AP

‘Great losses’

Sun’s sentence came a day after the same court handed down the same sentence to former Beijing police chief Fu Zhenghua, after finding him guilty of “accepting bribes and bending the law for personal gain.”

From 2014 to 2015, when he served as director of the Beijing Municipal Police Department, he hid clues to his younger brother Fu Weihua’s alleged serious crimes and did not deal with them in accordance with the law, allowing his brother to evade prosecution for a long time , the court said.

“The amount of bribes Fu Zhenghua received was particularly large, the circumstances surrounding his crime are particularly serious, and their social impact was particularly bad,” the court found. “The interests of the country and the people have suffered particularly heavy losses.”

“It was decided that after his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment after the expiration of the two-year reprieve, he will be imprisoned for life without commutation or parole,” the judgment said.

Xia Ming, a professor of political science at New York’s City University, commented before Sun’s sentence was announced that the timing of Fu’s sentence was no coincidence and is meant as a warning to Xi’s rivals and opponents in the highest echelons of the CCP.

Xi will seek an unprecedented third term at the CCP’s 20th National Congress, which opens in Beijing on October 16.

“I think Xi Jinping is still facing a certain amount of resistance in the party ranks because he is trying to break with the political traditions of the past 40 years,” Xia told RFA.

“He wants [this] to have a political effect at a critical time, which is that those who obey him prosper and those who oppose him fall,” he said.

‘Atmosphere of fear’

Political commentator Wang Juntao agreed, saying Xi anticipates any political opposition and hopes to fend off any challenge.

“Xi Jinping is doing this to create an atmosphere of fear in the party’s political and legal system. [which controls law enforcement],” Wang told RFA.

“It is likely that several senior officials and even Politburo members will lose their jobs to scare other party members into remaining loyal to Xi.”

It is also suggested that senior party members must show loyalty to the incumbent Minister of Public Security and the CCP’s Deputy Chief of Political and Legal Affairs, Wang Xiaohong.

“Judging those who have challenged Wang Xiaohong is supposed to force the political and legal system to pledge absolute obedience and support to Wang Xiaohong,” Wang said.

Fu, along with recently convicted provincial public security officials Liu Xinyun, Deng Huilin and Gong Daoan, are widely regarded as being in Sun’s “faction” of the CCP.

The Changchun court also said the seriousness of Fu’s crimes merited an outright death sentence, but it had handed down a suspended sentence because Fu “confessed and repented”, as well as actively returning stolen assets and helping with “bigger clues in other studies,” in a possible reference to the Sun Lijun study.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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