One-Time Potential Rival to China's Xi Draws Life Sentence

Sun Zhengcai, 54, a former political high-flyer once tipped to be among China's next generation of leaders.

At a party meeting a year ago, a senior official stated that Sun and other senior figures prosecuted in Xi's anti-corruption crackdown were "conspiring openly to usurp party leadership".

The court said the defendant had been given a "lenient" sentence in light of his willingness to cooperate with the investigation.

A photograph posted on the court's Web site showed the former leader in the dock, head deeply bowed as two police officers looked on.

Sun Zhengcai. appears in court in Tianjin.

Prosecutors accused Mr. Sun of taking bribes over a 15-year period during which he held leading positions in Beijing, at the Ministry of Agriculture, in the northeast province of Jilin and finally in Chongqing.

Sun said that he would not appeal against the sentence, the media outlet added.

He pleaded guilty to the charges and expressed repentance, according to Tianjin's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, which imposed his sentence less than one month after the trial opened in a relatively swift resolution of the case.

His actions had "gravely damaged the normal work order of national organizations and harmed the integrity of conduct by national employees", the statement said.

Other high-profile figures to fall in Xi's campaign include, Zhou Yongkang, a retired member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, and Guo Boxiong, a former top general.

During last year's National Congress, Xi vowed to continue his anti-corruption campaign, claiming "he fight against corruption has formed an overwhelming posture and strengthened in development". China has confirmed that Sun has been appointed Communist Party boss for the southwestern city of Chongqing. Bo, who is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power, was the Chongqing party chief and a potential rival to Xi, who had not yet taken power.

At the congressional gathering last October, Xi Jinping Thought was formally enshrined in China's constitution, making his political views and positions unassailable within the Party.

  • Joe Gonzales