Xi ‘Successor’ Sun Zhengcai Turns Out to be Bo Xilai 2.0

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expelled former Chongqing Party secretary and Politburo member Sun Zhengcai on Sept. 29 on charges of political indiscipline, corruption, and malfeasance. The Politburo ordered Sun’s arrest on July 24.

Why it matters: Many observers billed Sun as a potential successor to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and anticipated his promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee at the 19th Party Congress on Oct. 18. But Sun’s political career is now effectively over with his expulsion from the CCP.  

Bo Xilai 2.0: In our in-depth report, SinoInsider identified Sun Zhengcai as Jiang Zemin political faction’s chosen candidate to replace Xi in a coup. We also have a brief published Sept. 17 that identified Gen. Fang Fenghui as possible coup enforcer. This recent coup attempt resembles the one that was foiled back in 2012. (See our full report on the failed coup here.)

In 2012, Jiang sought to replace Xi with Bo Xilai. Bo like Sun, was the Chongqing chief and Politburo member. But the coup was exposed when Bo’s vice-mayor Wang Lijun tried to defect to the United States. Bo and several others were subsequently arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

What’s interesting to note is that the Xi leadership appears to be publicly drawing parallels between Bo Xilai and Sun Zhengcai, as if to signal that both men are guilty of the same crime:

  • On Sept. 25, a state-backed exhibition displaying “China’s outstanding achievements” opened in Beijing. At the exhibition, the photos of Sun, Bo, and four other purged officials are currently featured in a display with the caption “Severe punishment for these corrupt elements for violating both political and economic issues.”
  • Sun’s photo in the display is positioned directly under Bo’s.
  • In the official announcement of Sun’s expulsion from the CCP, political indiscretion is the first charge in the list of crimes levied against him.
  • Incidentally, the announcement was made a day after the 5th anniversary of Bo Xilai’s expulsion.

Our take: The Xi leadership’s recent charge against Sun Zhengcai corroborates SinoInsider’s intel that Sun played a leading role in a failed coup against Xi.