(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese court sent a former justice minister to jail for life, a sign President Xi Jinping is pressing on with a corruption crackdown just before a Communist Party congress expected to hand him more time in power.

Fu Zhenghua was given a suspended death sentence with no possibility of parole by a court in the northeastern city of Changchun, China Central Television reported Thursday.

The court said Fu’s criminal deeds, including taking bribes totaling 117 million yuan ($16.5 million) over a period of about 16 years in roles including Beijing police chief and vice minister of public security, “caused serious harm for the state and society,” the state broadcaster reported.

Xi has made the crackdown on corruption a signature feature of his decade in power, an effort that wins public support for cleaning up government and eliminates potential rivals.

China’s Politics Enter Turbulent Period as Xi Pushes for Control

China launched a nationwide campaign to clean up its justice system in July 2020, sweeping up more than 170,000 officials and police officers over the next two years. A handful of high-profile law enforcement figures are now getting sent to jail as a result of that probe in the run-up to the party congress starting Oct. 16 that’ll very likely set Xi up for a norm-busting third, five-year term as president.

On Wednesday, a court in Hebei sent Gong Daoan, former Shanghai police chief, to prison for life, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Two other courts in the northern province bordering the capital gave a 15-year prison term to former Chongqing police chief Deng Huilin, and 14 years to former Shanxi police chief Liu Xinyun.

State media previously said Fu -- who pled guilty in July -- and the trio sentenced a day before him were part of a “political clique” led by former vice minister of public security Sun Lijun. 

Sun was expelled from the party last year for what its top graft-fighting agency called “cultivating personal power and forming an interest group,” phrasing that could be read as a sign they posed a threat to Xi’s power.

Sun stood trial in July on charges of taking more than 646 million yuan in bribes and possessing a gun. He has yet to be sentenced.

The last person with a rank of minster or the equivalent in China’s system of government to get a sentence as harsh as Fu’s was Zhao Zhengyong in July 2020. The former party chief of Shaanxi province was given a suspended death sentence for taking bribes totaling 717 million yuan.

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