BEIJING, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Ling Jihua, former Chinese President Hu Jintao's most trusted advisor, is under investigation in a corruption probe.
The senior Communist Party official is the latest high-ranking leader to be accused of "suspected serious disciplinary violations," the Chinese media's code word for corruption, and a sign current President Xi Jinping has the confidence and support to detain China's most powerful officials in his campaign against corruption. Ling, 58, was, in effect, Hu's chief of staff.
Xi replaced Hu as Communist Party leader and Chinese president in 2012.
Ling's political career dimmed in 2012, when, prior to the succession of the presidency, Ling's son, Ling Gu, 23, died while crashing his Ferrari in Beijing; two women accompanying him on the ride were injured. Ling allegedly began a cover-up of the incident, and the resulting scandal led to corruption investigations of two of Ling's brothers, one a businessman and another a Shanxi province official, and then of himself.
Reported plans to groom the elder Ling to a position on the seven-person politburo ended with the crash and the scandal; he was given a lesser position, leading an agency managing ethnic minority relations. The announcement Monday, reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency, presents a concrete message to the Chinese people, who typically regard their entire government as corruption-riddled, that steps are being taken to purge the government at the highest levels.