A senior Chinese police chief sentenced to death for corruption may also have wiretapped Xi Jinping, it has been claimed.
The sentencing of 53-year-old Sun Lijun is widely seen as a message to opponents from a “paranoid” Xi as he prepares to be anointed as China’s lifelong leader.
The 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing is set to award Xi a third five-year term, making him “president for life.”
The party traditionally announces the arrest or sentencing of corrupt high-profile officials ahead of Congress to warn party members to stand the line.
Sun is a former deputy minister for public security and an ally of Xi who oversaw the crackdown on protests in Hong Kong and was even sent to Wuhan at the start of the Covid pandemic.
But now he has been denounced for leading a “political clique” that has a “toxic” influence that is “seriously damaging to party unity”.
It has now been claimed that Sun may even have been involved in wiretapping Xi and other senior leaders.
The claim comes from veteran China watcher Bill Bishop on The Spectator’s Chinese Whispers podcast.
“One of the things that seems to be getting around is that one of the convicted vice ministers also wiretapped senior leaders, including Xi, which is one of the big taboos in the government,” he said.
Bishop, who founded the influential Sinocism newsletter, added that Xi has been effective in “rooting out potential competitors or challengers in the security services and military.”
After his arrest last year, an executive at Chinese tech giant Tencent was accused of leaking personal information from its popular WeChat app to Sun.
New York City University China expert Ming Xia told The Sun Online it was “possible” Sun would bug Lijun Xi – and he had both the motivation and the means.
He said the “Department of Public Security has the technology to do this thing easily” and Sun “had a strong motive to do it out of power competition and self-preservation,” Professor Ming said.
Chinese leaders are “unprincipled opportunists with high political ambitions and a deep sense of insecurity,” so they “use every possible means to learn everything about their leaders,” he added.
According to Steve Tsang of SOAS University of London, the Sun’s death sentence is “undoubtedly a shot across the bow to warn others”.
He described it as “kind of a dirty Harry moment — make my day, punk — if you will”.
Willy Lam, a policy analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, says Xi is engaged in a “bitter power struggle” with his rivals in the security services.
“Xi is paranoid about maintaining his personal security and of course his power and status as a leader for life,” he said.
He said the harsh sentence against Sun “will serve to warn Xi’s real and potential enemies of the punishment they would receive for disobeying Xi’s orders, or worse, by organizing an anti-Xi cabal within the party.” “.
Lam said opposition to Xi will continue and there will likely be “more arrests, particularly of police, state security or military personnel whom Xi suspects of organizing coups.”
The image Xi is projecting is that of an all-powerful leader shaping China’s destiny at the helm of a united country and party.
Occasional bright spots seep out of the black box of Chinese politics when arrests by officials like Sun come under close scrutiny.
But Xi is known for having a faction of trusted civil servants and military officers whom he has promoted, which inevitably leads to jealousy and Game of Thrones-style intrigue.
It’s not just officials who are stepping out of line or standing in the way of Xi, China’s super-rich have also been taken down, including Jack Ma, a tech tycoon said to be worth £35 billion.
He disappeared after criticizing the Chinese regime on his own reality show.
Over the years, there have been conflicting rumors and even coups within the party to overthrow Xi.
In the grim world of Chinese politics, where factions fight behind closed doors, wiretapping has been used to gain the upper hand in power struggles.
A former rival of Xi Jinping, Bo Xilai, allegedly tapped the phone of then-Chinese leader Hu Jintao in 2012.
The city’s former powerful mayor was once seen as a potential rival to Xi for the presidency.
But the wiretapping and murder of British businessman Neil Heywood by his wife led to his fall and a life sentence on corruption charges.
Sun was found guilty of taking around £82million in bribes, stock market manipulation and illegal possession of two guns.
His sentence was suspended for two years and he was sentenced along with four of his cronies, including a former Beijing police chief.
Sun’s group allegedly included former Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua and three former police chiefs from Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi provinces, all of whom were sentenced to heavy prison terms.
All of them are also former Xi allies who have pushed through an anti-corruption campaign against “tigers and flies” – both senior and relatively junior officials.
Fu led several investigations that brought down Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar regarded by Xi as an enemy.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6453953/chinese-cop-sentenced-death-wiretapping-xi-jinping/ Top Chinese police officer sentenced to death after ‘wiretapping’ Xi Jinping as ‘paranoid’ leader sends message to opponents