Senior police officials purged in legal-political rectification campaign

The investigation of two senior officials formerly responsible for internal security means that the 2021 legal-political rectification campaign has reached the top levels of the Party. Fu Zhenghua, the former deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security who led Zhou Yongkang’s corruption investigation, is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and national laws”. Sun Lijun, former deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security, was expelled from the Party amid a multitude of accusations including corruption, immorality, neglect, superstition and, most damning, disloyalty to the party. Although the reasons for their sudden disgrace remain unclear, many observers believe they are linked to preparations for the 20th Party Congress scheduled for 2022, where Xi is expected to pursue a third consecutive term, breaking the precedents of the Reform era. On CNN, Nectar Gan and Jessie Yeung reported on the widely vilified Fu Zhenghua:

But Fu was not only attacking corrupt political elites. As Deputy Minister of Public Security, in 2013 he unleashed a sweeping crackdown on thought leaders on Chinese social media site Weibo, arresting several prominent commentators with many followers. He was also in charge of the nationwide roundup of lawyers and human rights activists in 2015, in what has become infamously known as the “709 crackdown,” according to people close to the detained lawyers.

[…] “The targets of Fu Zhenghua’s crackdown are people at the heart of Chinese civil society. Therefore, the entire intellectual sector of the country and the general public are all delighted with (his fall from grace), ”said Wu Qiang, political analyst in Beijing.

[…] Fu’s bossy approach was also applied to police officers and prison guards, some of whom hailed their former boss’s downfall as “the most gratifying.” Commenting on social media, many accused Fu of imposing grueling and unreasonably harsh demands on field officers, such as not allowing prison guards to take breaks during night shifts. [Source]

The list of high-profile crackdowns and investigations that Fu led during his tenure is long: the Zhou Youngkang investigation, the investigation into the “malicious trading” that brought down the Chinese stock market in 2015, a crackdown on Falun Gong , a crackdown on Internet commentators of the “Big V” and the crackdown on 709, which targeted lawyers and prominent members of civil society.

His arrest was probably part of a political-legal rectification campaign, first announced in 2020, which began in 2021. The campaign was explicitly modeled on the Yan’an rectification campaign from 1942 to 1945, in which more than 1,000 Party members were killed in the service of achieving Mao’s tripartite goals: “to achieve sole power within the Party, unify the Party and the army to overthrow the Kuomintang government after defeat Japan, and make himself the absolute ruler of China ”- all this he achieved. Nearly 180,000 executives in the legal-political sphere were disciplined during Xi’s restructuring in 2021; 1,985 have been charged with crimes. Alfred Wu of the National University of Singapore described the campaign as an effort to build support ahead of the 20th Party Congress. “Xi Jinping thinks that the politico-legal system is the most important because it is a disciplinary force [… Moves like this suggest] he is not very confident despite the outsiders who say he will get one hundred percent a third term ”, he told the South China Morning Post.

Sun Lijun was the subject of a public inquiry for the first time in 2020, although Nikkei Asia reports he was secretly under investigation in 2019. At the end of September, the Central Commission for Discipline Control announced his expulsion from the Party in an emotional statement. At the Wall Street Journal, James T. Areddy wrote about the importance of Sun’s withdrawal from the Party:

The opinion of the Central Party Antigraft Discipline Control Commission accused Mr. Sun of rumors, deception, theft, extravagance and immorality, as well as disloyalty to the party, superstition and negligence in stopping the spread of Covid-19. “The circumstances were particularly serious, the nature was particularly bad and the impact was extremely serious,” the statement said.

[…] Now in his 50s, Mr. Sun is among the ousted officials who were once considered Mr. Xi’s political loyalists. His impeachment “signaled the unfolding of a new wave of purges targeting those who once helped Xi consolidate power,” according to a study last year by University of Victoria political science professor Guoguang Wu, published in China Leadership Monitor.

[…] Wu said Thursday that a reference in the allegations to Mr. Sun’s involvement in “cliques” likely indicates that his problems are also related to the behavior of other officials. [Source]

At the Diplomat, Jesse Turland reported that Sun Lijun’s problems could stem from his work as a member of a team sent to Wuhan from Beijing to deal with COVID:

Online, observers have speculated that Sun’s “arbitrary discussion” of government policy may have been at the heart of CCDI’s vitriolic rebuke. Sun is rumored to have failed to keep sensitive information about the handling of the novel coronavirus a secret.

In early 2020, Sun traveled to Wuhan to help maintain stability in the city. According to an untouchable rumor, Sun wrote notes regarding the party’s handling of the situation in Wuhan to his Sydney-based wife, which were intercepted by Australian intelligence agencies.

Sun’s arrest in April last year coincided with the arrest of Zhang Feng, an executive at Tencent, the company that owns WeChat, for breach of data security. According to Toronto freelance journalist Wen Zhao, this gives credit to the possibility that Sun and Zhang were jointly targeted for disclosing information, intentionally or unintentionally, about the handling of COVID-19. [Source]

There is another intriguing angle to the story of Fu Zhenghua and Sun Lijun. Eccentric billionaire Guo Wengui brought unfounded corruption charges against the two men in 2017, accusing them of having “no faith in the system or the country” and of hiding highly classified Chinese government documents abroad. . Guo also brought charges against the two men’s superiors, Meng Jiangzhu and Wang Qishan, both of whom remain – as far as outside observers can tell – in good standing within the Party.

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