FORMER CHINESE PRESIDENT’S TOP AIDE ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION
July 23, 2015
Ling Jihua, formerly served as the secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was expelled from the Party and will face prosecution after an investigation found him involved in “serious violation of Party discipline,” according to China state media Xinhua. Ling is the latest senior party official “netted” by the unprecedented anti-corruption campaign waged by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Based on evidence found from a six-month internal investigation, the politburo announced the decision to terminate Ling’s party membership and transfer his case to judicial authorities after a regular meeting on Monday, July 20. According to the official statement, Ling is accused of misusing public resources for personal profit, accepting huge bribes through himself and his wife, illegally obtaining party and state secrets, committing adultery, and trading his power for sex.
From 2007 to 2012, Ling was the director of the CPC’s Central Committee’s General Office under former president Hu Jintao, a position equivalent to the White House chief of staff. But a car crash accident led Ling’s political career to the downfall just months before the opening of the 18th CPC National Congress, where Ling was expected to be promoted to a higher position. In March 2012, a black Ferrari Spider crashed on the East Third Ring Road in Beijing, killing the driver, believed to be Ling’s only son, and a young woman who accompanied him. Being aware of the potential negative impact on his career, Ling called up secret police to clean up the crash scene before the arriving of news media and police. It is also said that Ling was forced to forge an alliance with Zhou Yongkang, who led the secret police, and his close ally Bo Xilai in an attempt to cover up the crash. Following the prosecution of Zhou and Bo, the politburo launched a corruption investigation into Ling last December. Two months later, Ling was removed from his position as the vice chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
President Xi has vowed to advance the country’s anti-graft campaign on several occasions. “If we don’t redress unhealthy tendencies and allow them to develop,” he said, “it will be like putting up a wall between our party and the people, and we will lose our roots, our lifeblood and our strength.”
Since 2013, Xi’s crackdown on corruption has targeted more than 100 high-ranking officials from the government, military, and state-owned enterprises. Most have been officially charged with graft after being probed by the CPC’s discipline branch. Former chief of security Zhou Yongkang, the highest official yet to be prosecuted, was found guilty for corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment last month.
Yet, there are many concerns and explanations about the motivation behind Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. Some political analysts suggest the anti-corruption campaign is aimed at reducing the influence of “party elders” in the politburo, while others believe the crackdown is politically motivated as Xi himself is involved in factional struggle. “But if it just reinforces his personal authority, that would be very dangerous. That’s what Chairman Mao did,” said Huang Jing, a professor on Chinese politics from the National University of Singapore.
It is unknown how long it will take to clean out all the “tigers” and “flies”, meaning high-ranking and local corrupt officials. However, the fight against corruption is never as simple as “probe and punishment.” Corruption is a prevalent phenomenon in Chinese politics. “While the campaign has successfully brought down high-ranking “tigers” like Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou,” said Shannon Tiezzi from The Diplomat, “the real test is whether or not the Party can weed out the endemic corruption among low-level officials.” Firm commitment is surely important, but in the long run, it would be hard to achieve success in the anti-corruption campaign without institutional reform. Wang Yukai, deputy head of the China Society of Administrative Reform, said “it must make the transition from a political movement type of anti-corruption campaign to institutional law.”
For more information on this topic, please visit the following links:
The Wall Street Journal – “China Anticorruption Campaign Targets Party ‘Cliques’”
The New York Times – “China Faces New Scandal Over Crash of a Ferrari”
South China Morning Post – “How Ling Jihua, once one of China’s most powerful men, fell from grace“
For Chinese language news on this topic, see the sources below:
凤凰网 – “从令计划案情通报读懂中共新词“政治规矩”
搜狐网 – “令计划3个月后将被取消中委资格 刘晓凯或补位”
Compiled and edited by Junxiao Liang.