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Sun Zhengcai (Chinese: 孙政才; born September 25, 1963) is a former Chinese politician and senior regional official. From 2012 to 2017, Sun served as the Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing, an interior municipality, and a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China. Prior to that, he served as the Party Secretary of Jilin province, and Minister of Agriculture of China.

Sun Zhengcai
孙政才
Sun Zhengcai(cropped).jpg
Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing
In office
November 2012 – July 2017
DeputyHuang QifanZhang Guoqing (mayor)
Zhang Guoqing→Tang Liangzhi (zhuanzhi)
Preceded byZhang Dejiang
Succeeded byChen Min'er
Communist Party Secretary of Jilin Province
In office
November 2009 – November 2012
Preceded byWang Min
Succeeded byWang Rulin
Minister of Agriculture of China
In office
December 2006 – December 2009
PremierWen Jiabao
Preceded byDu Qinglin
Succeeded byHan Changfu
Personal details
Born (1963-09-25) September 25, 1963 (age 55)
Rongcheng, Shandong
Political partyCommunist Party of China (expelled)
Alma materQingdao Agricultural University
China Agricultural University
Sun Zhengcai
Simplified Chinese孙政才
Traditional Chinese孫政才

Sun was abruptly removed from office in July 2017. Shortly after losing his post in Chongqing, Sun was put under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The CCDI accused him of political and criminal wrongdoing, and he was expelled from the Communist Party of China. On February 13, 2018, Sun was convicted of bribery by the Intermediate Court in Tianjin, and sentenced to life imprisonment on May 8, 2018.

Sun was the youngest member of the 18th Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and the fourth sitting Politburo member to be expelled from the party since 1990. Prior to his fall from grace, Sun was once considered to be a leading candidate for a top leadership position in the "6th Generation of Chinese leadership".

Contents

Early careerEdit

Sun was born to a family of farmers in a village located near the city of Rongcheng, Shandong province in September 1963.[1] In 1980, Sun was admitted to the Laiyang Agricultural College (now Qingdao Agricultural University). After obtaining a bachelor's degree, he pursued post-graduate work at the Beijing Agriculture and Forestry Institute and the China Agricultural University, where he obtained master's degrees in agronomy. After completing his academic work, he remained at the institute to conduct further research and eventually obtained positions as an administrator, rising to become executive vice president of the institute, in charge of its day-to-day work.

Sun joined the Communist Party of China in July 1988. In 1997, he was named governor and Deputy Communist Party Secretary of Shunyi County in rural Beijing. Shunyi was then converted from a county to an urban district; Sun continued to serve as district governor. In February 2002, he became the Party Secretary of the Shunyi District. Shortly thereafter, in May 2002, Sun unexpectedly defeated then municipal propaganda department head Jiang Xiaoyu in a municipal party committee election to earn a seat on the municipal Party Standing Committee, ascending to sub-provincial ranks at the mere age of 39.[2] He was elevated to become secretary-general of the Beijing party organization from 2002 to 2006,[3] in December 2006, he was appointed as Minister of Agriculture as nominated by Premier Wen Jiabao. At age 43, Sun was one of the youngest State Council ministers at the time.[4]

Jilin and ChongqingEdit

 
Sun Zhengcai visited Malacca in September 2011.

In November 2009, Sun was named party secretary of Jilin province, in northeast China. In November 2012, after the 18th CPC National Congress, he was appointed a member of the Politburo and replaced Zhang Dejiang as party chief of Chongqing.[5] The post in Chongqing had emerged as one of the most important regional offices in China, and Sun's assuming the reins in the interior municipality signaled that he was likely destined for even higher office. It also demonstrated the trust that the central leadership placed in Sun, as Chongqing had only monthly earlier weathered a political storm with the attempted defection of police chief Wang Lijun and the ouster of party chief Bo Xilai. Since the 1990s, regional leadership tenures were seen as important stepping stones to eventual national leadership.[5]

It is not clear if Sun had any strong backing from former political heavyweights prior to his ascendancy to the Politburo; more likely, he was a consensus candidate whose loyalties crossed factional lines. It has been suggested that Jia Qinglin or Wen Jiabao[6] may have served as Sun's advocate for promotion; the former because Sun worked for Beijing for much of his early political career, where Jia Qinglin was party secretary, and the latter because Wen and Sun both share a modest upbringing and common concerns for China's rural population.[1]

In Chongqing, Sun advocated for a strategy he termed "Five Great Capability Areas" (五大功能区), splitting Chongqing into five spheres from which to distribute resources.[7] In January 2016, Xi Jinping paid a visit to Chongqing during which he lauded the city's achievements. At the 2016 National People's Congress, Xi shook hands enthusiastically with Sun. The events led to speculation in the media that Sun had earned Xi's endorsement to progress further.[8]

In February 2017, Sun's fate seemed to take a fatal turn. Inspection teams under the auspices of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection released a report announcing that Chongqing had not done enough to excise its political scene from the influence of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun, and that "party leadership had weakened". This was seen as an oblique criticism of Sun's own management of the party organization. It was the first blot on Sun in an otherwise steady term in Chongqing. In May, Sun took the opportunity at the municipal party congress to laud Xi as the party's leadership core, and declare his intentions to resolutely stamp out the influence of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun. In June 2017, Chongqing police chief He Ting was removed from office. He Ting and Sun were from the same area of Shandong province.[9]

On July 15, 2017, party authorities announced that Sun was to be replaced in his post as party secretary of Chongqing by Chen Min'er, who was propaganda chief in Zhejiang when Xi Jinping was provincial party secretary there. The meeting to announce the event had been called abruptly, and Sun himself was not present at the handover ceremony; there was no mention of his record in Chongqing, either, as was customary for major transition meetings.[10] Curiously, footage of Sun also appeared to be deliberately cut from Xinwen Lianbo coverage of the National Finance Work Conference - a meeting attended by all Politburo members. These signs were taken as a political death knell for Sun.[11][6]

InvestigationEdit

On July 24, 2017, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced that Sun was undergoing investigation for violating party discipline. The announcement marked the first time that a sitting Politburo member was investigated by the CCDI since Xi Jinping assumed power as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China at the 18th Party Congress. Before Sun, the last incumbent Politburo member subject to investigation was Bo Xilai (also then serving as Chongqing party secretary) in April 2012. Sun was the fourth sitting Politburo member investigated after 1990 - following Chen Xitong, Chen Liangyu, and Bo Xilai; all of them were party chiefs of direct-controlled municipalities.[12]

Prior to his downfall, political observers generally saw Sun as being groomed for a higher leadership position due to his relative youth and the diversity of his experiences; he had even been characterized as a potential successor to Xi Jinping.[13] The announcement of the investigation into Sun in July 2017 essentially put an end to his political career. Prior to the announcement of the investigation, Sun (along with Hu Chunhua) were seen by political observers as having almost certainly secured further advancement at the upcoming 19th Party Congress. Sun's departure seems to have upset the carefully calibrated conventions from previous administrations and made the congress more open-ended than would have otherwise been.[14]

Following the announcement of Sun's investigation, numerous party organizations around the country rallied to declare their fealty to the decision - both reflecting the political gravity of the announcement and hearkening back to the political declarations five years earlier when a similar announcement was made about Bo Xilai. The jurisdictions that Sun had once led - Chongqing, Jilin, and the Ministry of Agriculture, were among the first to declare their "unwavering support" for the decision. Tianjin (under Li Hongzhong) and Guizhou (under Sun Zhigang) also held expanded meetings of party cadres to declare their support for the decision.[15]

ExpulsionEdit

On September 29, 2017, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, with uncharacteristic zeal, announced the results of the disciplinary case initiated against Sun, merely two months after he was formally placed under investigation. The commission accused Sun of "wavering in his ideals and beliefs, turned his back against the party's mission and values, failed to maintain a proper political stance... violated political discipline and political rules, violated the Eight-point Regulation, bathed in pomp and circumstance and belief in his special privileges; violated organizational discipline, practiced favoritism, and leaked organizational secrets." It added that Sun also sought illicit gain for relatives and took valuable gifts directly or through appointed persons.[16]

Additionally, the commission said Sun became "highly bureaucratic, lazy and ineffective, led a degenerate and corrupt lifestyle, engaged in money-for-sex transactions." The communication did not explicitly say that Sun had accepted bribes, only that he is "suspected of criminal wrongdoing due to accepting valuables and used his power to seek gain for others," and that the investigation found evidence of further criminal acts. It concluded that Sun had "deviated from the party spirit, violated the party's political expectations for senior leading officials, and failed the trust of the party center and the hopes of the people, led to great damage to the mission of the party and state, and caused extremely bad impact on society."[16] Sun was summarily expelled from the Communist Party of China and also formally expelled from the public service.[16]

In the aftermath of Sun's expulsion, numerous party leaders in the jurisdictions Sun once served declared their loyalty to the decision. The party organization in Jilin province, where Sun once worked as party chief, took the opportunity to take a swipe at Sun's term there, publicly declaring, "Sun did not care about issues and the development of Jilin, and focused all his energy on getting a promotion, severely damaging the political ecology of the province."[17]

During the investigation, Sun was said to have informed on a number of high-ranking officials in Chongqing, causing unprecedented fallout on the megacity's political scene shortly prior to the 19th Party Congress. While the municipality held elections for delegates to the congress in May, by the time a final list of delegates were released in late September, as many as 14 out of 43 of the initially selected list were surreptitiously removed, including five members of the municipal party standing committee. Mostly prominently, Chongqing party organization head Zeng Qinghong (female, not the former Vice President) was believed to be held for investigation.[18]

On February 13, 2018, Sun was charged of bribery by the People’s Procuratorate of Tianjin.[19] He was pleaded guilty to corruption charges at the Tianjin First Intermediate People's Court on April 12, 2018.[20][21] Sun was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 8, 2018 for bribery worth 170 million yuan.[22]

Sun was a member of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and, until his expulsion, a member of the 18th Central Committee.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

Sun was married to Hu Ying (胡颖), a professor at Capital Normal University. She was at one point a visiting scholar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Beginning in 2005 she held a senior position at China Minsheng Bank.[24] The couple had one child, who attended Cornell University.[24]

Sun reportedly kept an emperor's dragon robe in a room in his home, and frequently prayed to it.[25] Media reports said that Sun was addicted to the mobile video game King of Glory, would play the game prior to conferences, and would make his aides wait outside while he finished a game in his vehicle before getting off.[25]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Cheng, Li. "Sun Zhengcai 孙政才: One of China's Top Future Leaders to Watch". Brookings John L Thornton China Centre. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013.
  2. ^ "中共差额选举史 两内定政治局委员意外落选". Duowei. September 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Cheng, Li. "Xi Jinping's Inner Circle" Part 5: The Mishu Cluster II" (PDF). Brookings Institution. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 July 2017.
  4. ^ 快讯:孙政才任农业部部长 [News: Zhengcai as Minister of Agriculture] (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. 29 December 2006. Archived from the original on 1 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Sun Zhengcai appointed Party chief of Chongqing". China Internet Information Center. Xinhua News Agency. 20 November 2012. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b "High-flier in Chinese politics under investigation ahead of power reshuffle, sources say". South China Morning Post. 16 July 2017. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017.
  7. ^ "中共重庆市委四届三次全会闭幕 将建设五大功能区". Chinanews. September 14, 2014.
  8. ^ "观察站:孙政才重庆这五年". Duowei. July 26, 2017.
  9. ^ Li Peng [李鹏], ed. (24 May 2017). "孙政才当选中共重庆市委书记 孙政才 市委书记 中共_新浪新闻" [Sun Zhengcai was elected secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee] (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 22 July 2017.
  10. ^ Wong, Chun Han; Wei, Lingling (15 July 2017). "China Launches Probe Into Possible Xi Jinping Competitor". The Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required (help)).
  11. ^ "Former China Chongqing party chief under probe". The Business Times. Singapore. 16 July 2017. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Curse of Chongqing? Probe into Sun Zhengcai evokes memories of Bo Xilai's dramatic fall". South China Morning Post. 18 July 2017. Archived from the original on 18 July 2017.
  13. ^ "A potential successor to Xi Jinping is purged". The Economist. 20 July 2017.
  14. ^ Gao, Charlotte (July 25, 2017). "Chinese Politician Sun Zhengcai Is Under Party Investigation". The Diplomat.
  15. ^ 孙政才被查 天津连夜召开加急会议拥护中央决定 [Overnight, an urgent meeting was held in Tianjin supporting the central party decision to investigate Sun Zhengcai]. Sina. 24 July 2017. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "中共中央决定给予孙政才开除党籍、开除公职处分". Caixin. September 29, 2017.
  17. ^ "孙政才被双开 吉林省表态:一心为升官上位". Duowei. 30 September 2017.
  18. ^ "A dozen more Chongqing officials could be caught up in Sun Zhengcai corruption probe, sources say". South China Morning Post. 30 September 2017.
  19. ^ "China issues formal charges against former Communist Party star Sun Zhengcai". South China Morning Post. 13 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Former Chinese political star Sun Zhengcai admits taking bribes". South China Morning Post. 12 April 2018.
  21. ^ "重庆市委原书记孙政才受贿案一审开庭,择期宣判". Xinhua. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  22. ^ "Former top Chinese leader gets life in prison on corruption charges". CNN. 8 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  23. ^ 2728. "中共中央决定给予孙政才开除党籍、开除公职处分--反腐倡廉-人民网". fanfu.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  24. ^ a b "被稱「表叔」 女兒留學受質疑". Sing Tao Daily. July 25, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "王者荣耀怠政拜龙袍? 孙政才"犯罪"全貌渐显". Duowei. December 24, 2017.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Zhang Dejiang
Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing Municipality
2012 – 2017
Succeeded by
Chen Min'er
Preceded by
Wang Min
Communist Party Secretary of Jilin Province
2009 – 2012
Succeeded by
Wang Rulin
Government offices
Preceded by
Du Qinglin
Minister of Agriculture of China
2006 – 2009
Succeeded by
Han Changfu