A few provincial and ministerial-level officials have been recently investigated and punished over various alleged crimes. Some China observers believe that Xi Jinping and his political allies are being targeted by other factions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ahead of the most important political meeting of the year, the 20th National Congress of the CCP.
China expert Zhuge Mingyang told The Epoch Times: “Corruption is one of the characteristics of the CCP, so cracking down on corruption is just an excuse to crack down on political enemies. The recent investigation of some members of Xi’s faction highlights the fierce infighting within the CCP before the 20th National Congress of the CCP.”
Xi wants to secure an unprecedented third term as Party chief this year. But some officials oppose him, particularly those loyal to former leader Jiang Zemin, according to China observers.
On June 1, Chen Rugui, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress, was placed under investigation. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a briefing that Chen was “suspected of serious violations of discipline and law” and was undergoing “discipline review and supervisory investigation.”
Chen, 60, is the former mayor of Shenzhen city and gradually climbed up the political ladder in Guangdong and assumed various high-level roles.
Political commentator Chen Pokong believes Shenzhen is significant to the CCP, and the city was designated China’s first Special Economic Zone. Furthermore, Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong makes it “a battleground for military strategists,” he said. Chen Rugui was appointed mayor of Shenzhen in 2017 when Xi’s power reached its peak. This shows that he was Xi’s ally, Chen Pokong added.
Another official who held a high-level position during the peak of Xi’s power was recently sacked. On May 31, Zhang Jinghua, former deputy secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee, was removed from his post and expelled from the Party.
Zhang, 60, had a long political career in Jiangsu Province, including being the former mayor of Xuzhou city. After 2021, he served as deputy secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee and deputy secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Political Consultative Conference Party Group.
Zhang’s alleged crimes listed in the notice by the CCDI include the following: deliberately resisting censorship, engaging in superstitious activities, accepting gifts and briberies, seeking personal gain in the selection and appointment of officials, falsifying economic data, and violating market regulations for personal gain.
The accusations of falsifying economic data and violating market regulations are significant because it is the first time a senior CCP official has been accused of engaging in such activities, Chen Pokong said.
Moreover, Chen believes Xi’s political faction may not have been involved with Zhang’s sacking because Premier Li Keqiang and his faction are in charge of the market economy. In other words, Li’s faction could have been responsible for bringing down Zhang.
Li has consistently opposed the falsification of economic data. According to a U.S. diplomatic telegram disclosed by WikiLeaks, in 2007, when Li served as secretary of the Liaoning Provincial Party Committee, he told the U.S. Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt Jr. that China’s GDP figures are “man-made” and, thus, unreliable.
Between May 31 and June 1, other provincial and ministerial-level officials were placed under investigation and given sentences, including the following: Sun Guoxiang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress; Zhang Bencai, the procurator-general of the Shanghai Municipal Procuratorate; Tong Daochi, former secretary of the Sanya Municipal Party Committee, Hainan Province. Tong was given a suspended death sentence for “bribery and insider trading.”
Li Zefeng, former vice chairman of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Political Consultative Conference, was sentenced to one year and dismissed from his post.