An aide to former President Hu Jintao is the latest senior official in China under investigation for corruption allegations. Ling Jihua is being investigated for “disciplinary violations” by the Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party's internal control system. Ling came into the public spotlight when his son Ling Gu died in a Ferrari crash in March 2012. Despite a media blackout on the identities of those inside the Ferrari and censors blocking online comments mentioning the crash, China’s Internet users questioned how the son of a party official could have afforded a car reportedly worth 5 million yuan ($803,900).
Before the investigation, Ling, 58, had been up for promotion to the Communist Party’s Politburo, the party’s ruling inner circle, the BBC reported. Ling was removed from his high-level position as head of the Central Committee's General Office following his son’s car crash. Ling was then relegated to a less high-profile United Front Work Department position. Ling’s older brother, Ling Zhengce, was also investigated for “serious discipline violations” earlier in June, and his younger brother Ling Wancheng, who the South China Morning Post reports had left China for the United States in October but is now back, is also under investigation.
President Xi Jinping launched a comprehensive crackdown on corruption after taking over from Hu in late 2012. Many high-profile arrests have been made, including cases involving former security chief Zhou Yongkang, former Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, and top economic official Liu Tienan. According to the BBC, the investigating committee said Xi feels secure enough in the probe to detain his predecessor’s trusted advisers.
Critics, however, insist that Xi is trying to eliminate his political rivals through the anti-corruption investigations.