Chinese leader Xi Jinping is not letting his guard down.
The upcoming 19th National Congress on Oct. 18 will unveil the new generation of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership for the next five years. Xi is expected to stay on as top party boss, but he is vigilant about his enemies in the opposing faction who might undermine him: those still loyal to former leader Jiang Zemin.
Under Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, Jiang’s allies have been taken down one after another. The latest to get axed are two high-level officials in Chongqing and one official from the central law enforcement apparatus.
On Oct. 9, the CCP’s disciplinary body announced that the former police chief of Chongqing, He Ting has been expelled from the CCP, while the former head of the political department in the Ministry of Public Security, Xia Chongyuan and former deputy mayor of Chongqing, Mu Huaping were demoted and stripped of their administrative posts.
All three have close ties to top party members who were Jiang’s associates.
In the CCP’s official announcement, Xia is charged with using public funds to arrange vacations for his relatives, using his position to gain personal profit, and “participating in non-organizational activities.” Interestingly, when two of the highest level Jiang faction members were ousted from the Party, Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, the CCP also used such wording. The two were plotting a coup to replace Xi.
Xia got his early career boost from Zeng Qinghong, Jiang’s right-hand man and former vice-chair of the entire Party. As both hailed from the same hometown in Dayu County, Jiangxi Province, Zeng helped Xia get promoted through the ranks while at the CCP’s Organization Department. In 2013, Xia finally got a high-ranking position in the Ministry of Public Security.
Zeng helped Jiang solidify his power by ruthlessly destroying his opponents. Jiang became known for his cronyism that led to unfettered corruption, and employing violent tactics to strengthen his power base, among them supporting a crackdown on student democracy activists during the Tiananmen Square massacre and launching a nationwide genocide to eliminate adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
Xia’s demotion is proof that the Ministry of Public Security, a powerful arm of the Party, is undergoing a major overhaul to clean up any remaining Jiang influence.
Mu was a close confidant of the recently ousted Sun Zhengcai, who in turn was allied with Zeng.
Radio France Internationale reported that Mu helped arrange for one billion yuan (about $150 million USD) to be transferred to a shell company in Hong Kong owned by Sun’s mistress. It was done under the guise of money for Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure project.
China commentator Jiang Weiping also noted that Mu is close friends with Huang Qifan, a former mayor of Chongqing and henchman of Bo Xilai. This time, Mu was caught for bribery, but his most significant crime was likely his staying loyal to the wrong side.
He Ting was charged with squandering public assets, using his power for personal profit and relatives’ businesses, among other wrongdoing.
Having spent his career in the CCP’s law enforcement system, He Ting was a disciple of Zhou Yongkang, the fallen coup leader mentioned above. He Ting gave huge sums of money in bribes to win Zhou’s patronage.
Zhou was the top Party boss in charge of the state’s security apparatus at the time. He was the one who recommended He Ting to become Chongqing police chief.
He Ting was one of his underlings: he is listed as a person under investigation by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
According to the CCP’s latest numbers, as reported on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, more than two million officials have been disciplined since Xi came to power.
Gu Qing’er contributed reporting.