Saturday 15 December 2018

Communist party chiefs 'plotted to kick out Xi'

Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the 19th Party Congress in Beijing (AP)
Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the 19th Party Congress in Beijing (AP)

Neil Connor

A senior official in China's Communist Party has claimed that high-ranking members had plotted to topple President Xi Jinping.

China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Shiyu said a group of former political heavyweights who had been snared in Mr Xi's corruption crackdown had sought to "seize state power".

Since he assumed power in 2012, Mr Xi has launched a war on corruption which has proved popular among ordinary Chinese. But critics say it lacks transparency and is a tool to sideline opponents.

The Chinese president has previously denied that there was a "power struggle", but Mr Liu's comments were in contrast to the party's carefully crafted image of unity.

Among the officials named by Mr Liu was former Politburo Standing Committee member and security chief Zhou Yongkang.

He also named Bo Xilai, the party chief of the south-western city of Chongqing who was brought down in 2013 in a high-profile scandal.

Others included Sun Zhengcai, who was only recently expelled from the party amid corruption allegations, two military officers and a former presidential aide.

"They had high positions and great power in the party, but they were hugely corrupt and plotted to usurp the party's leadership and seize state power," Mr Liu said.

It is not the first time that a senior official has alleged friction in the Chinese leadership, however Mr Liu's comments appear to be the first to name officials.

It is unclear if he was suggesting that the men acted together or separately.

Wang Qishan, a senior official who spearheads Mr Xi's anti-corruption drive, had told state media last year of officials "seizing party and state power".

Mr Liu made his comments on the sidelines of the Communist Party's congress, the 19th to be held since it first met in 1921.

Mr Xi is expected to strengthen his already considerable power at the political gathering. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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