Anti-graft campaign bags another ‘tiger’

2014-12-23 01:27:45 GMT2014-12-23 09:27:45(Beijing Time)  Global Times
Ling JihuaLing Jihua

Ling Jihua, a senior Party official and national political advisor, is now under investigation for "suspected serious disciplinary violation."

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced the investigation in a brief statement on Monday.

Ling is vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee (UFWD). The CPPCC is the country's top political advisory body, and the UFWD is in charge of ensuring national unity by rallying people from outside the ruling Party, people of ethnic or religious backgrounds and those in Hong Kong and Macao.

Ling is one of the highest-ranking officials to be placed under investigation since President Xi Jinping became Party leader in late 2012 and launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign.

More than 56 officials of vice-ministerial level or above have been brought down in the past two years, including former national security chief and CPC Central Committee Political Bureau member Zhou Yongkang, and former vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Caihou.

In 2012, Ling was moved from being the director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. The move was alleged to have been connected to the involvement of a close relative in a fatal Ferrari crash in Beijing earlier that year.

Ling Jihua made his last "appearance" in an article published in Party magazine Qiushi on December 15, in which he upheld Xi's speech on the Party's policies on ethnic issues.

Long before this, rumors of a possible investigation into Ling had circulated publicly, especially after two of his three brothers were put under investigation earlier this year.

In June, Ling's elder brother Ling Zhengce was removed from his post as vice chairman of the CPPCC provincial committee in North China's Shanxi Province for serious disciplinary violations.

In late November, news portal caixin.com reported that Ling Jihua's other brother, Ling Wancheng, was also arrested. Ling Wancheng established Huijin Lifang, a private equity firm in 2008.

The company has pocketed more than 1.4 billion yuan ($225 million) from initial public offering deals since then, caixin.com reported.

The elder brother is deceased, and their sister is a doctor who has not been connected to the investigation.

Although authorities did not disclose any other information in their Monday announcement, observers said the corruption probe into his relatives and government officials connected to them had apparently led to Ling Jihua's eventual fall.

"Apparently, the official probe into Ling Jihua came as a gradual result of the investigation into other people," Cai Zhiqiang, a professor of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times on Monday.

Cai said that although rumors had gone viral long before confirmation of the investigation, the Party would not make any premature moves without sufficient evidence of a case against Ling Jihua.

"It shows that the Party has been more careful in following its vow to seek the rule of law in government and Party affairs," Cai said.

A few hours before the Ling Jihua announcement, authorities also said they would move ahead with the prosecutions of Shen Weichen, former Party chief with the China Association for Science and Technology, and Jin Daoming, former deputy chief of Shanxi's provincial people's congress, for suspected crimes that include bribe-taking.

Shen was a member of the CPC Shanxi provincial committee standing committee from 2006 to 2010, while Jin was the former deputy chief of Shanxi's Party leadership.

A large number of officials in Shanxi, known as a center of China's lucrative coal industry, have been mired in allegations of corruption and have been investigated in the past two years.

This includes provincial officials and some from the province's largest cities. The former deputy governor of Shanxi, Du Shanxue, was brought down in June when authorities announced the probe into Ling Zhengce.

Ling Jihua was born in Shanxi and served in posts there before being promoted to a central Party body.

"Ling's case has proved the Party's determination to continue fighting corruption, and that no matter how high-ranking the officials are, they will be punished according to the law if they violate laws or Party discipline," Cai said.

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Editor: Zhao Wei
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