Quick Take: Former Rising Political Star Sun Zhengcai Gets Life in Prison

Quick Take: Former Rising Political Star Sun Zhengcai Gets Life in Prison

Quick Take: Former Rising Political Star Sun Zhengcai Gets Life in Prison

The First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin convicted Sun Zhengcai of taking more than 170 million yuan ($27m) in bribes directly or through third parties.

Observers say the Chinese leadership under Xi used the trial to demonstrate its strict stance against corruption and to urge party members to remain loyal to the president.

As the youngest politburo member, Sun was even seen in some quarters as a potential successor to Xi.

Prosecutors also accused Sun of taking advantage of his position to seek profits for others in project bidding, project approval, enterprise operation and personnel promotion.

The China Central Television and Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the former official had pleaded guilty and agreed with the verdict.

The large amount of illegally accepted money could have had Sun sentenced to death.

Sun said he admits his crimes and is sincerely repentant.

In addition to being imprisoned, Sun was deprived of political rights for life and all of his personal property was confiscated.

Mr Sun was replaced in Chongqing by Chen Min'er, a former aide and protégé of Mr Xi who was elevated to the 25-member Politburo at the national party congress in October.

Between 2012 and 2017, 35 full and alternate members of the Communist Party's powerful Central Committee have been disciplined, which is as many as in the period between the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and 2012.

During the conference, Sun, and a former party boss in Chongqing, Bo Xilai, were accused of being part of a plot to usurp the power of the Communist Party. It has punished more than 1.5 million corrupt officials over the past five years, and helped Xi exert tighter control over the party.

Notably, while Sun was sentenced to life in prison for corruption, the Party appears to have found him guilty of a more serious offense - challenging Xi's unquestionable authority.

The Chinese president said in April, though, that he is opposed to life-long rule, arguing that the move to amend the constitution was definitely misinterpreted by foreign observers.

Critics have compared it to a political purge.

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