Equipo Nizkor
        Bookshop | Donate
Derechos | Equipo Nizkor       


Ling Jihua, Ex-Presidential Aide in China, Gets Life Sentence for Corruption

The Chinese authorities have sentenced Ling Jihua, the top aide of a former president and Communist Party chief, to life in prison for corruption, according to the state news media.

Mr. Ling was found guilty on Monday of taking bribes, abuse of power and illegally obtaining state secrets, the news reports said. He is one of the highest-ranking Chinese officials to be jailed for corruption.

Mr. Ling joins two other notable senior party officials, Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, in receiving a lifetime prison sentence for corruption. All three men have been accused of trying to undermine the authority of President Xi Jinping, who took office in late 2012, the same year that scandals involving the three men unfolded.

Mr. Bo and Mr. Zhou are considered political enemies of Mr. Xi, and Mr. Ling is a critical player in an informal party group, known as the Youth League faction, that was a center of power before Mr. Xi became China's top leader. Hu Jintao, the former president and party chief for whom Mr. Ling served, was a leader of that faction.

Mr. Xi has made a partywide anticorruption campaign his signature domestic policy, and many of his political opponents have been purged as part of that drive.

Mr. Ling once oversaw the party's General Office, which handles administrative matters for the party chief and other senior leaders. He was the equivalent of the White House chief of staff and was privy to the confidence of Mr. Hu in a way few other officials were.

The scandal over Mr. Ling weakened Mr. Hu during Mr. Xi's ascent to power in late 2012, and Mr. Hu immediately handed Mr. Xi an important title, chairman of the military commission. That broke with a precedent set by Mr. Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who retained that title for a few more years even as Mr. Hu took other reins of power.

A court in Tianjin, an east coast city near Beijing, formally announced the life sentence on Monday, and a news report said a closed-door trial had been held on June 7. Prosecutors had filed an indictment with the court in May. But in China, the verdict and sentencing are often political decisions made at the top levels of the party; Mr. Xi would no doubt have had to approve the judgment on Mr. Ling and may have made it himself.

A report by China Central Television, the state network, said that Mr. Ling, his wife, Gu Liping, and a deceased son, Ling Gu, all took bribes totaling 77 million renminbi, or about $11.6 million. The report had no details of the state secrets that Mr. Ling was convicted of stealing.

Mr. Ling's downfall began on a snowy night in March 2012, when his son, 23, fatally crashed a black Ferrari Spider after hours of partying. Two young women were also injured, one of whom later died. Salacious details of the crash quickly spread in political circles in Beijing, and political insiders said at the time that someone in the party tried to cover up the accident internally. They said the father, Mr. Ling, was the obvious suspect.

He was moved to a lesser post as leader of the United Front Work Department ahead of schedule. Word began to spread in the party that he had engaged in shadowy dealings with Mr. Bo and Mr. Zhou, though the rumors may have been part of a campaign to discredit him.

In July 2015, the party announced that it was expelling him, which paved the way for criminal charges. It said Mr. Ling had taken bribes, committed adultery and hoarded a large amount of state and party "core secrets."

The Chinese government has asked the United States to return Mr. Ling's youngest brother to China. The brother, Ling Wancheng, also known as Wang Cheng or Jason Wang, could decide to seek asylum in the United States. He has a $2.5 million house in California that he bought from a professional basketball player in 2013.

In January, an official, Liu Jianchao, said China was "dealing" with that case and had contacted the United States on the issue.

Mr. Ling's wife, Ms. Gu, was also detained on charges of corruption. Rui Chenggang, a famous young television anchor for China Central Television, was close to Ms. Gu and hosted events for her. He was detained in 2014 in a corruption investigation and has not been heard from since. The party has yet to announce the fate of Ms. Gu.

[Source: By Edward Wong, International New York Times, Beijing, 04Jul16]

Bookshop Donate Radio Nizkor

Corruption and Organized Crime
small logoThis document has been published on 06Jul16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.