- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2020

China’s Communist Party announced Sunday that a senior Public Security Ministry is under investigation — another apparent political casualty of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sun Lijun, vice minister of public security, is being investigated for suspected “severe violations of discipline and law,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a two-sentence dispatch.

The probe is being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s leading investigatory agency which, under President Xi Jinping, has conducted a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

Reports from Asia say Mr. Sun was sent from Beijing to Wuhan in February to take charge of security operations.

It is unusual for a senior security official like Mr. Sun to be placed under investigation because he is among the trusted keepers of China’s secrets, which includes information on the personal lives of senior leaders and intelligence gathered abroad.

Mr. Sun is one of several CCP members to face retribution from the party over the coronavirus.

Mr. Xi also ordered the firing of the Hubei Province party secretary, Jiang Chaoliang, and the party leader in Wuhan, Ma Guoqiang. Both officials were replaced by party members viewed as more loyal to Mr. Xi.

The history of the CCP has been marked by political infighting among party leaders and the current Xi regime is not different, according to analysts.

The investigation of Mr. Sun could be another sign of instability within the CCP leadership.

Earlier this month, the party announced that a Ren Zhiqiang, a real estate tycoon and party member who criticized Mr. Xi, had been placed under investigation. Mr. Ren is close to Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, China’s financial power broker who is said to be at odds with Mr. Xi.

The official website of the Central Commission said Mr. Sun, 51, was born in Qingdao, Shandong province.

While at the Ministry of Public Security, which is one of the party’s most powerful intelligence and security agencies, Mr. Sun was director of the National Security Bureau. He also headed the ministry’s notorious “610 Office,” a special intelligence and security unit targeting internal dissidents, and staffed with as many as 15,000 operatives.

Mr. Sun was among four Chinese intelligence officials who came to Washington and New York in 2017 and improperly abused their visas to pressure a Chinese dissident.

The FBI wanted to arrest the Chinese officials but was blocked by State Department officials under then-Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton, who feared the arrests would disrupt favorable U.S.-China relations.

In addition to Mr. Sun, there was at least one other senior Chinese intelligence official to be investigated for corruption.

Ma Jian, a former vice minister at the Ministry of State Security, the civilian spy service, was sentenced to prison in December 2017 on unspecified charges. Mr. Ma was another senior official with access to secrets on Chinese leaders like Mr. Xi and his supporters.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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