Chinese President Xi Jinping has foiled a coup by former political heavy weights who were at the receiving end of his high-profile anti-graft campaign, a top Chinese official has revealed. Xi, who is set for a second five-year term as General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), has saved the party by foiling a coup plot by his detractors, Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission said.
Liu made the stunning disclosure at a meeting on the sidelines of the going once-in-a-five-year congress of the CPC in Beijing, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
Speaking at a panel on the sidelines of the 19th CPC Congress in Beijing on Thursday, Xi has accused a string of disgraced cadres of plotting to seize the reins of power, it reported on Friday.
Among those named was the former party boss of megacity Chongqing, Sun Zhengcai, once a front-runner for a place in the inner circle – the Politburo Standing Committee, who along with his wife were summarily removed by Xi. Both were taken away for disciplinary investigations.
Sun’s fall from grace in July reminded many of the dramatic downfall of one of his predecessors in both Chongqing Bo Xilai, five years ago, ahead of the previous party congress.
Bo who once regarded as rival to Xi five years ago is currently in prison, serving a life sentence.
Rumours have been gripping Beijing over likely fallout of Xi’s massive anti-corruption campaign against “tigers and flies” in which former security czar, Zhou Yongkang, Bo and host of top generals have been put to trials. This is the first time an official disclosed it.
Considering the threats faced by him, Xi, 64, has been provided with the highest personal security. Like Bo, Zhou too is serving life term in jail after accepting a host of charges against him.
“[Xi] addressed the cases of Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Ling Jihua, Xu Caihou, Guo Boxiong and Sun Zhengcai. They had high positions and great power in the party, but they were hugely corrupt and plotted to usurp the party’s leadership and seize state power,” Liu said, becoming the first senior official to accuse Sun of trying to takeover the party.
A report by state-run Xinhua news agency said late last month that Sun had been expelled from the party and handed over to judicial authorities for further investigation. The announcement came two months after his downfall but no details of the investigation were released.
Liu said Xi had taken great effort over the past five years to tackle corruption, which “seriously endangered the party’s ruling foundation and ability to govern”, the Post report said.
“Xi Jinping, with the historical responsibility as a proletarian revolutionist … cleared up huge risks for the party and the country,” he said.
Xi himself devoted considerable part of the his three-and-half-hour address to the congress at its inaugural meeting on October 18, pledging to root out corruption from all levels in the party.
Observers say that the massive anti-corruption campaign in which over a million officials have been punished has also enabled Xi to consolidate his hold on the power emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader heading the party, Presidency and the military.
“The central leadership of the party with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core saved the party, saved the military and saved the country over the past five years … He saved socialism,” Liu said.
Wang Qishan, the country’s top graft-buster and the man widely seen as the country’s second most powerful man, reportedly told China’s top political advisory body late last year that some cadres had tried to take over the party, the Post report said.
“More seriously, some even sought to … seize party and state power, engaging in activities to split the party, and seriously threatening the nation’s political stability,” the CPC’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily quoted Wang as saying.
Wang also said the central authorities managed to punish Zhou, Bo and other leaders so as to eradicate a number of conspirators and ambitious schemers within the party, the report said.
On Thursday Yang Xiaodu, deputy secretary of Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC which carried out the crackdown told the media that about 440 senior officials of the CPC including 43 top officials party at centre were investigated in the sweeping anti-corruption carried out by Xi in the last five years.
A total of 278,000 grassroots Party members and officials were also punished, he said.
China is working with the international community to hunt corruption suspects who had fled overseas, leading to the capture of 3,453 fugitives, Yang said. Among the top 100 fugitives listed on an Interpol red notice, 48 have been arrested, he said.