Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Vilification Begins

Ling Jihua now faces a string of possible corruption charges

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao's one-time top aide Ling Jihua is now being used for target practice by state media, as he was recently formally arrested and stripped of his Communist Party membership.

The 58-year-old is being prosecuted for alleged corruption, violating political rules, organizational discipline and failing to protect secrets of the Party and state.

An investigation into Ling already began in December, but now the Supreme People's Procuratorate will launch a criminal investigation into corruption allegations.

According to Xinhua, Ling apparently took large bribes and sought profits for his close friends and associates. He was also accused of illegally acquiring a large amount of "core secrets" of the Party and state.

However, as Hu's top aide, he would have access to confidential information, so it is unclear what this allegation means.

Xinhua also added Ling allegedly sought benefits for his wife, and that he traded his power for sex and had extramarital affairs with several women.

Nationalist paper Global Times was the most severe of the state media outlets, chastising Ling for destroying himself because of his hunger for power and greed.

His son's car crash that Ling tried to cover up
"The case of Ling is not simply about law and order violations, but also the unrestrained growth of greed and ambition of an elite and powerful person, which leads to distorted behaviour," the editorial said.

The Global Times added Ling ignored the power and influence of the internet, perhaps referring to the March 2012 car accident in which his son Ling Gu and two female passengers died in a Ferrari that crashed on one of Beijing's ring roads.

Ling Jihua tried to cover up the accident, getting special forces to take care of the incident instead of the police, and trying to scrub evidence from the internet, but was eventually found out, along with arranging for his other alleged misdeeds.

"He seemed to strongly believe that his power could enable him to 'cover the sky with one hand' [fool the public], however... he didn't realize that he was under close scrutiny," the editorial said. "He wasn't punished initially simply because it wasn't the appropriate time."

That's because his boss, Hu was going to step down later that year and perhaps the Party thought it would be too much attention focused on Ling when it should be on incoming President Xi Jinping.

As a result, Ling lost his chance to climb the upper echelons of power, and instead was relegated to a non important position with the long title of vice chairman of the national committee of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, and head of the United Front Work Department.

At this point Ling can only go further into free fall if state media are given the green light to tar him further.

Having been expelled makes him completely vulnerable and his former boss cannot help him at all, nor would Hu want to be associated with him anymore.

It's a sad ending for a guy who tried to rise to the top by hitching a ride with his boss who was president of China. Too bad Ling's son smashed up his luxury sports car, ending his own political chances, otherwise Ling's destiny would be very different today.

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