China jails ex-president’s top aide for life on corruption charges

Ling Jihua’s trial held in secret; is latest person convicted in corruption crackdown

Ling Jihua, then vice chairman of the Chinese people’s political consultative conference (CPPCC), pauses during meeting in Beijing on March 11th, 2013. File photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Ling Jihua, then vice chairman of the Chinese people’s political consultative conference (CPPCC), pauses during meeting in Beijing on March 11th, 2013. File photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

 

Ling Jihua, a one-time top aide to former Chinese president Hu Jintao, has been jailed for life after being found guilty of abuse of power, taking bribes and illegally obtaining state secrets, during a secret trial.

Mr Ling is the latest person to be convicted in the ongoing corruption crackdown in China.

In 2012, Mr Ling’s son Ling Gu died in a Ferrari crash, along with two half-naked young women, an incident which effectively destroyed Ling Jihua’s career.

Mr Hu’s former chief of staff was found guilty of taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power during a secret trial in Tianjin.

“Ling pled guilty and decided not to appeal, according to the first-instance ruling of the First Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin,” the state news agency Xinhua said in a brief statement.

The case was held behind closed doors, ostensibly because it involved state secrets, although corruption trials are rarely open affairs.

“Ling Jihua took an extremely large amount of bribes. He obtained a large number of state secrets, and the crimes were very serious. He abused his power, and caused a terrible impact upon society,” Xinhua said.

Announcing the investigation into Mr Ling in December 2014, the Communist Party said the case caused major damage to its image. The charges also included having extramarital affairs.

Mr Ling hails from the northern province of Shanxi, one of China’s top coal producing provinces, which has been of particular focus in the anti-graft campaign.

The anti-corruption campaign, which is driven by president Xi Jinping, has caught up some very high profile cadres, including senior Communist Party members such as former standing committee member and security czar Zhou Yongkang, and two of the top brass of the People’s Liberation Army, along with many executives from state-owned enterprises.

Mr Xi has said the campaign is aimed at netting both high-profiles “tigers”, including powerful leaders and “flies”, such as lowly bureaucrats.