Beijing, Apr 12 (AFP) A former top Chinese Communist Party official who was once tipped for a leadership post was put on trial on bribery charges today, the latest target of President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption crusade.

Sun Zhengcai, a former Politburo member and party chief of the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, was accused by the country’s top prosecutor in February of “seeking benefits for others” and “illegally accepting huge sums of money”.

Sun had once been tipped for promotion to the Politburo’s elite, seven-member standing committee, which rules the country and is presided over by Xi.

The No1 Intermediate People’s Court in the northern city of Tianjin said the trial had started this morning, with more than 130 people in attendance, including members of the country’s top political advisory board.

Government corruption is rampant in China, and Xi Jinping has presided over a much-publicised anti-graft campaign since coming to power in 2012, which some have compared to a political purge.

In October, senior party official Liu Shiyu congratulated Xi for foiling the efforts of powerful officials who “plotted to usurp the party’s leadership and seize state power.” Liu listed former security czar Zhou Yongkang alongside Sun as part of the conspiracy, which was rumoured to have involved military officials.

They have been ousted from the CCP and arrested or jailed on corruption charges. (AFP) AQS AQS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.