Family Ties Can’t Save Shanxi Official From Probe, Xinhua Says

An investigation into Ling Zhengce, a senior official in China’s coal-rich Shanxi province whose brother was an ally of former President Hu Jintao, shows officials can’t rely on family connections to save them, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary today.

Ling, 62, is under investigation for alleged “severe” violation of the law and party discipline, the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website yesterday. Ling is an older brother of Ling Jihua, who served as Hu’s personal secretary and chief of the party’s General Office, according to a 2007 article by Southern Metropolis, part of a news group controlled by the Guangdong Provincial Communist Party.

The move against Ling shows corrupt officials aren’t immune from an anti-graft campaign even if they have relatives in high office, Xinhua said its website. The article was later taken down. Without naming Ling Jihua, Xinhua said it is easier for people to climb the career ladder if they are connected to someone in power.

“From cases in the past few years we can see the formation of ‘family corruption’,” it said. “People protect each other and profit from each other through family bonds.”

The crackdown in Shanxi is part of President Xi Jinping’s nationwide campaign against corruption that has led to the arrest of officials in government, business and the military. It’s also part of a widening graft investigation targeting senior officials in Shanxi in the northwest part of the country.

Shanxi Gang

Shanxi vice governor Du Shanxue is also under investigation, according to a separate statement yesterday on the website of the party’s top disciplinary body. The news follows probes announced earlier into Jin Daoming, a senior member of the People’s Congress of Shanxi province, and Shen Weichen, head of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology research institute who previously held multiple government posts in Shanxi.

The corruption cases in Shanxi, along with others in Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces, as well as state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. show that the Chinese proverb “great trees are for shade,” isn’t always true, Xinhua said in the commentary, referring to the protection afforded officials who have links to the top. Some corrupt officials have developed clusters through connections from their home town or workplace, it said.

Ling was appointed vice chairman of Shanxi province’s top political advisory body in January 2008, according to Xinhua. He spent his entire political career in Shanxi starting as a cadre in the provincial government’s general office in December 1984, Xinhua said.

Ling’s brother, Ling Jihua, now holds the position of minister for the United Front Work Department, which handles relations with non-party organizations and Tibet. Ling Jihua was considered a top candidate for the party’s Politburo, before accusations that he tried to cover up details of the crash of a Ferrari that killed his only son in March 2012 that ended his ascent in the party ranks, the South China Morning Post reported in 2012.

— With assistance by Ting Shi

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