The purge of top Chinese officials of the ruling Communist Party ahead of its key Congress next month in which President Xi Jinping is widely expected to get endorsed for an unprecedented third term, continued on Thursday with another top official being indicted over corruption charges.
Zhang Yongze, former vice chairman of the provincial government of Tibet Autonomous Region, has been indicted on charges of taking bribes, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
According to his indictment, Zhang took advantage of his former positions and power to seek benefits for others in areas, including project contracting and personnel promotion, and illegally accepted a large amount of money and valuables in return.
The National Commission of Supervision had concluded its probe into Zhang’s case and initiated a public prosecution against him at the Intermediate People’s Court of Xi’an.
On Wednesday, Liu Yanping, who headed the State Security Ministry’s branch of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, was indicted on bribery charges, becoming yet another top official to face trial in the new spate of indictments of officials in the anti-graft campaign of Xi, which again gathered pace ahead of a major Congress of the Communist Party China (CPC).
In the last few days, three security officials were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for corruption, raising eyebrows about the sudden surge of punishments ahead of the CPC’s once-in-a-five-year Congress on October 16 during which 69-year-old Xi was expected to get endorsement for a third-term five-year term.
Sun Lijun, former vice minister of public security who was accused of heading a “political clique” opposed to Xi, was sentenced to death on Friday last with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes by the Intermediate People’s Court of Changchun in northeast China’s Jilin Province.
A day before that, the same court sentenced Fu Zhenghua, former Justice Minister and one of China’s most powerful police chiefs, and former Jiangsu official Wang Like to death sentence with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes.
Since he came to power in 2012, Xi has carried out a shock and awe anti-corruption campaign in which over a million officials, including dozens of top military officers, were punished.
Critics of Xi say the anti-graft campaign which is continuing as he is set to complete his 10-year tenure this year has enabled him to consolidate his hold on the party and the military.
The CPC holds a Congress every five years. But this year’s Congress is regarded as significant, as it is a leadership change year for the century-old party.
Xi, heading the party, the military and Presidency, will be completing his 10-year tenure this year.
As per the norm widely followed since the death of party founder Mao Zedong in 1976, all Xi’s predecessors strictly followed a 10-year tenure keeping up with the directive of Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping to ensure the emergence of new and collective leadership to avert some of the excesses like the Cultural Revolution pursued by party founder Mao Zedong in which millions of people were killed in the name of ideological experimentation.
Indications are that Xi, who is conferred with the title of “core leader” like Mao, is expected to continue in power for a third term and perhaps for life, which reportedly caused consternation among some of the 96-million-member strong party.