Former senior Chinese official given life sentence

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Xi (64) has waged a relentless fight against deep-rooted corruption since assuming power five years ago, with more than a million officials punished and dozens of former senior officials jailed.

One of China's most high-profile politicians, Sun Zhengcai, once seen as a likely candidate to be China's next leader, was sentenced to life in prison for taking almost $27 million in bribes.

Sun Zhengcai, a member of the ruling Politburo until he was unexpectedly ousted past year, pleaded guilty to corruption in April.

At a trial in the port city of Tianjin, a local court sentenced Sun to life in prison.

His wealth was confiscated and his political rights were stripped for the rest of his life, according to the verdict. Bo, who is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power, was the Chongqing party chief and a potential rival to Xi, who had not yet taken power.

He committed the crimes while he was a district Communist Party leader in Beijing in 2002, when he was the state minister of agriculture, and during his period as party chief, the court said.

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In July 2017, Sun was abruptly removed from his post as the party secretary of the inland city of Chongqing, and replaced by a Xi protégé.

Many China politics experts and some party insiders attribute Mr. Sun's downfall to his reputation as a possible next-generation leader whose ties were to senior party figures other than Mr. Xi.

One of the most powerful men in all of China presently, Jinping rose to fame due to his anti-corruption stance.

He was abruptly removed from office ahead of the party Congress in October previous year.

The Chinese president said in April, though, that he is opposed to life-long rule, arguing that the move to amend the constitution was definitely misinterpreted by foreign observers.

Sun fell from grace just months before the Communist Party met for its twice-a-decade conference in October, and a generational transfer of power was made in key decision-making bodies.