How Sun Lijun, once China's youngest vice minister in public security, falls in corruption
Partial transcript of TV series "Zero Tolerance" EP01
As Pekingnology mentioned in the last newsletter highlighting Xi Jinping’s recent remarks on the unrelenting pursuit of graft busting, from Tuesday to Thursday (Jan. 18 to Jan. 20, 2022)., the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) 中央纪委, the top Party discipline watchdog which doubles as National Supervisory Commission (NSC) 国家监委, will hold its sixth plenary session.
Ahead of the session, CCDI/NSC and China Central Television 央视, now a part of China Media Group 中央广播电视总台, is now broadcasting a five-episode TV series 零容忍 Zero Tolerance on CCTV1 at prime time (8 pm GMT+8) since Saturday, Jan. 15.
The first episode [Chinese] featured three cases.
The first concerns Sun Lijun, once China’s youngest vice-minister in the Ministry of Public Security, and what has been officially termed his political gang/small circle/clique/coterie involving other “tigers” - understood as in the ranking of above the vice provincial/ministerial level, have been put under discipline probes.
They are, in the order of their appearance in the first episode:
Wang Like, former member of the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of Jiangsu Political and Legal Committee;
Gong Dao’an, former Shanghai vice mayor and Shanghai public security director;
Deng Huilin, former Director of the General Office of the Central Committee of the Political and Legal Committee and then Chongqing vice mayor and public security director;
Liu Xinyun, former Shanxi vice governor and Shanxi public security director.
In the description of Sun’s case, the episode also mentioned the ongoing investigation of Fu Zhenhua, former Minister of Justice.
The second case in the episode concerns a director of a hospital in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province.
The third case concerns Hu Huaibang, former head of China Development Bank, who was filmed admitting to taking huge bribes from Ye Jianming, founder and former Chairman of CEFC China Energy Company, for, among other things, approving a 4.8 billion USD credit line to CEFC. Ye had made international headlines for rising in rocket speed from complete obscurity to being an energy tycoon in the Fortune Global 500. And Wang Sanyun, former Gansu Provincial Party Secretary, was the broker in between.
Your Pekingnologist has devoted Sunday to bringing you the transcript on the first and third cases, involving Sun and Hu respectively. Because of the limit on the length of Substack, the hosting site of this newsletter, the transcript involving Hu will be published separately.
Pekingnology doesn’t have the resources to translate everything, but this is the link to the full video and Chinese-language transcript on the CCDI/NSC website.
Wang Like: I got to know him [Sun Lijun] in the second half of 2008. He was visiting Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department and I felt that he was a young leader of the Ministry of Public Security.
[Commentary] In Wang Like's eyes, Sun Lijun occupied an important position he has big potential to rise even further, so he took various opportunities to endear him. In 2011, when Sun Lijun was on a business trip to Liaoning, Wang gave him a deposit card with 1 million yuan in it for the first time. Sun Lijun accepted it instantly, which also meant that he accepted Wang Like. Since then, Wang Like has made many special trips to Beijing and other places to "visit" Sun Lijun, gifting deposit cards, US dollars, and shares of companies.
Sun Lijun: He [Wang Like] came to Beijing about four or five times a year and gave me 300,000 US dollars each time, which was put in a small seafood box. Every time he came, he said, "I'm here to gift you some small seafood" and I knew what was going on.
[Commentary] The "small seafood" given by Wang Like to Sun Lijun over the years had amounted to more than 90 million yuan by the time of the investigation, and Sun Lijun did not disappoint him.
Sun Lijun: He went to Jiangsu as a vice governor and public security department chief, and later became a member of the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee. I helped him along the way. I regard him as one of my own people.
[Commentary] Wang Like needs to rely on Sun Lijun to "rise", while Sun Lijun needs to cultivate his "own people" to occupy important positions. The two hit it off. In the report on the expulsion of Wang Like from the Party, there is a sentence that is the same as that in Sun Lijun's report, that is, they “从未真正树立理想信念” "never really set up ideals and beliefs". Combing the two people's life paths and the formation of values, we can find many similarities.
Gu Hui (staff member of the CCDI/NSC): Like Wang Like, Sun Lijun has never really set up ideals and beliefs from the beginning. After he graduated from university, he began to sell steel together with several Wenzhou businessmen. His pursuit at that time was to earn money to buy houses and cars. Later, his father found a relationship and arranged for him to work in the health department. He began to think about how to make money from the health and medical resources. In this way, just entering the civil service, Sun Lijun's view of power and achievements has been extremely distorted.
[Commentary] In 2001, Sun Lijun negotiated with a businessman in a pharmaceutical business where Sun Lijun was responsible for introducing the people at the government and the hospital. The businessman was responsible for the capital contribution and the operation of a company, and they agreed to split the benefits 30/70.
Sun Lijun: I mistakenly believe that I can be an official and get rich at the same time. I worked in the health department and know many heads of hospitals and doctors. I could help him by talking to them and we sold medicine to the hospital.
[Commentary] After taking office in the Ministry of Public Security, Sun Lijun continued to use the influence of power and position to deal with legal disputes and evade regulatory penalties for the company, and traded power and money with the company's actual controller, accepting huge amounts of bribes.
Sun Lijun: He [the businessman] was involved in a case handled by the Ministry of Public Security. I talked to some comrades of the task force who was handling the case. He was not dealt with in accordance with the law and he escaped legal consequences.
[Commentary] On the understanding of power and money, Sun Lijun and Wang Like are highly consistent in nature. They both believe that power generates money and money generates power, and the two are in a virtuous cycle. In 2008, after Sun Lijun was transferred to work in Beijing, he used his power and influence to help many illegal businessmen to do business. The illegal businessmen offered him huge bribes. Sun Lijun's stolen money, including huge amounts of cash, expensive watches, gold and silver jewelry, vintage Moutai, high-end mobile phones, expensive Pu 'er tea, and other valuables, were eventually seized by the CCDI/NSC task force.
Sun Lijun: My power has become greater and I have committed more serious crimes. For example, I have never run a red light before. When I got to the Ministry of Public Security, I thought it was normal to run a red light. A very small example, but this is to relax yourself mentally, distort yourself psychologically and indulge yourself in behavior.
[Commentary] Having power and wanting to run a red light is a vivid manifestation of the extreme distortion of Sun Lijun's view of power. Sun Lijun's loss of consciousness of rules, discipline, and law actually doomed his own final outcome.
Gu Hui (staff member of the CCDI/NSC): After arriving at the Ministry of Public Security, Sun Lijun, in order to achieve his own political goals, placed close associates, formed cliques, and organized gangs. His contacts with gang members are entirely based on the transactions of power, money, and sex.
[Commentary] In Sun Lijun's values, seizing greater political power and obtaining greater economic benefits are inseparable two sides of the same coin. In 2010, Gong Dao’an, director of the public security bureau of Xianning City in Hubei Province, entered Sun Lijun's eyesight at a training class for local public security bureau directors. He felt Gong Dao’an's professional ability was outstanding, so he took the initiative to make overtures. By [Sun Lijun’s] active recommendation and maneuvering, Gong Dao’an was promoted to the post of deputy director-general of the Department of Technological Investigation of the Ministry of Public Security, and then he was successively promoted to the posts of director-general of the Department of Technological Investigation, Director of the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau and deputy mayor of Shanghai.
Gong Dao’an: Sun Lijun told me directly, would you like to come to the Ministry of Public Security’s Technological Investigation Department? I could also feel that Sun Lijun played an important role [in my promotion].
[Commentary] Sun Lijun needs to make use of Gong Dao’an professionally, so he treats Gong Dao’an in a way that is completely opposite to that of Wang Like. From Wang Like, Sun Lijun was collecting money. For Gong Dao’an, in turn, he spent a lot of money to buy off him. Sun spent a large sum of money out of his bribery proceeds to solve various problems such as paying for Gong’d child(ren)’s apartments, arranging for job/position for Gong’s relatives, and so on; he also gave "bonus" to Gong Dao’an's subordinate team, urging Gong Dao’an to spare no effort to work for him.
Gu Hui (staff member of CCDI/NSC): Gong Dao’an was thus grateful to Sun Lijun and followed him diligently. He believed that bonding with Sun Lijun was binding with a bright future. This kind of behavior of losing the political principle, not believing in the organization but believing in personal guanxi/connections, engaging in [political] groups and gangs, and engaging in personal loyalty instead of Party principles and discipline have caused bad political influence, and the final result of being investigated and dealt with is inevitable.
[Commentary] Gong Dao’an not only worked for Sun Lijun himself but also helped Sun Lijun to run a "small circle" and recommended Deng Huilin, then director of the Yichang Public Security Bureau of Hubei Province, to Sun Lijun. Sun Lijun helped Deng Huilin to become the Director of the General Office of the Central Committee of the Political and Legal Committee, the Director of the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau and the vice mayor of Chongqing. In 2014, Sun Lijun found another "his own" - Liu Xinyun. Liu Xinyun used to be the Director of Jinan Public Security Bureau. During a meeting of the Ministry of Public Security in Shandong, Liu Xinyun was in charge of security. Liu took the initiative to introduce himself at Sun’s dormitory to make overtures.
Liu Xinyun: I just went to his dormitory and I said my name. Sun said that I know that you are from Jinan Public Security Bureau. I said we were in charge of security outside, is there anything else that you want?
[Commentary] Sun Lijun is also looking to recruit members for his "small circle". When he saw Liu Xinyun cozying up to him, he immediately got the message. He disclosed to Liu Xinyun the situation of a case he was investigating at that time, not only showing off his participation in important cases but also showing that he counted Liu Xinyun as "one of his own".
Liu Xinyun: He told me that on the first meeting between us and I instantly felt that by sharing such an important secret he wasn’t thinking little of me.
[Commentary] After Sun Lijun's maneuvering, in December 2014, Liu Xinyun was transferred to the post of director-general of the Department of Cyber Security of the Ministry of Public Security. As soon as Liu arrived in Beijing, Sun Lijun arranged a meal and received him together with other "small circle" members.
Liu Xinyun: Sun said, Liu Xinyun has also been transferred. You should all support his work. Sun said you must tell me some information on the internet in time. These words meant first, we must all support Liu Xinyun; second, I give a task to you and that shows his position in this circle. A discerning person will understand when he hears it.
[Commentary] Liu Xinyun privately provided Sun Lijun with a large number of important online public opinions in violation of regulations; Gong Dao’an also provided Sun Lijun with a large amount of information and reported to Sun the handling of various cases. Sun Lijun did not have the authorization to know the vast majority of the materials they illegally provided to Sun.
Sun Lijun: I asked them to show me all the relevant materials of the cases. This kind of behavior is a serious violation of political discipline and political rules and does not conform to the relevant regulations.
[Commentary] In 2018, Sun Lijun took up the position of vice minister of the Ministry of Public Security. Carrying in mind that he was the youngest member of the Party committee and vice minister of the Ministry of Public Security, he thought he had political potential and advantages that others didn’t have. His ambition grew bigger. He engaged in rampant corruption. And he was plotting for a higher leadership position.
Gu Hui (a staff member of CCDI/NSC): Sun Lijun's political ambitions were expanding and he was seeking what he called greater development. He has drawn up a "15-year plan" for himself, striving to reach a higher level every five years, and was boasting around among businessmen and friends. While enjoying the flattery, he made up his mind to gain power and often made promises to the members of the "small circle".
[Commentary] In a "small circle" with personal attachment/loyalty as the background color, as long as one member's violation of discipline and law is exposed, the various kinds of people in the "interest chain" will be exposed. The temporary prosperity to the collective downfall of Sun Lijun and his "small circle", seemingly sudden, is in fact inevitable.
Sun Lijun: I have been thinking about why I made so many mistakes and detoured so far. The content of the communique about me is accurate. My problem is mainly that I have lost my ideals and beliefs. I was a public security officer and a defender of fairness and justice, and it was unexpected that I became a destroyer of the rule of law or fairness and justice.
[Commentary] The case of Sun Lijun’s political gang is a typical case of serious violation of the Party's political discipline after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. At present, the investigation into the case of Sun Lijun’s political gang is still ongoing. The Central Committee has decided to initiate an investigation against former Minister of Justice Fu Zhenhua and others.
[Commentary] Political awareness, awareness of the rule of law, and awareness of discipline are very important to the leading cadres and Party members, especially to the political and legal teams who are in charge of law enforcement and justice with big power. Once the law enforcement jurisdiction is abused, it will inevitably seriously harm social fairness and justice, and eventually, bite themselves. According to the major deployment of the CPC Central Committee, starting in February 2021, the education and rectification of the national political and legal team were carried out in two batches, closely focusing on the deep-seated problems that have been exposed, sticking with the whole-chain and system-wide rectification, resolutely eliminating the black sheep and thoroughly rectifying stubborn diseases.
Sun Dongsheng (Deputy Director-General of the Case Review Office of CCDI/NSC): The Sun Lijun case is a typical case in which political and economic issues are involved. In particular, against acute warnings and the atmosphere where corruption has been continuously busted, these people disobey disciplines, violate laws despite knowing the law, form cliques, and engage in gangs. The amount of corruption and bribery is huge and the impact is very bad. This is one of the most serious cases we have investigated and dealt with since the 19th National Congress of the CPC. It reflects the Party Central Committee's attitude and determination of Zero Tolerance for corruption and corrupted individuals.
ICYMI Pekingnology's last newsletter highlighted Xi Jinping’s recent remarks on the unrelenting pursuit of graft busting.