China: Official sidelined over car crash

2012-09-03 14:01
A child walks past propaganda of the Communist Party in Shanghai, China. The sign (other characters not seen) written in Chinese reads "Chinese Communist Party". (Eugene Hoshiko, AP)

A child walks past propaganda of the Communist Party in Shanghai, China. The sign (other characters not seen) written in Chinese reads "Chinese Communist Party". (Eugene Hoshiko, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Chinese Culture
    Read all you need to know about the Chinese culture in this insightful title. Now R447.00
    buy now
Beijing - China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition has been hit by reports of fresh scandal, with a senior ally of President Hu Jintao being demoted after sources said the ally's son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car.

The car - a Ferrari according to some of the sources - crashed in Beijing on 18 March in an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party, sensitive to perceptions that children of top party officials live rich, privileged lifestyles completely out of touch with the masses, the sources said.

The country has already been rocked by the biggest political scandal in two decades - the sacking of Bo Xilai, an ambitious senior politician whose wife recently received a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman in a case that also involved a mix of money and power.

The car crash, the details of which are still shrouded in mystery, reportedly involved the son of Ling Jihua, aged 55, who state media said was dropped at the weekend as head of the party's General Office of the Central Committee.

It is a powerful post, similar to cabinet secretary in Westminster-style governments. Ling is very close to Hu.

Ling could not be reached for comment on the matter. He had been eyeing a promotion to the Politburo - the party's policy-making council - and to become head of the party's Organisation Department, which oversees the appointment and dismissal of senior officials, sources said.

Identities unclear

"The central leadership decided that the scandal over the incident was too serious to allow Ling Jihua to be promoted, and Hu Jintao really couldn't resist," a retired party official said.

Sources close to the leadership, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three young people were in the car at the time of the crash, including the ally's son, aged in his 20s.

At least one of the trio died in the crash, they added, but the victims' identities were unclear. They did not know the son's full name.

One source and a journalist who once worked for a party publication - both speaking on condition of anonymity - said the son had died in the crash, and the source added that the son's death certificate had been changed to disguise his identity.

The South China Morning Post first reported this alleged cover-up on Monday, saying the son's surname had been changed to Jia", which has the same pronunciation as the word "fake" in Chinese. The newspaper gave the son's real name as Ling Gu.

A second source with ties to China's leadership said the son had not died in the crash.

Criticism over cover-up

The South China Morning Post said two women, one aged in her 20s and the other in her 30s, were seriously injured.

The Beijing city government and police have declined to comment on the accident.

A businesswoman with family ties to a senior leader said Ling had been criticised by other leaders, including former president Jiang Zemin, for attempting to hush up the accident.

"Jiang has been adamantly opposed to Ling Jihua receiving a powerful position," she said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of discussing elite politics.

Over the weekend, Ling Jihua was appointed head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, a less influential position than his current post, in a move that was viewed as a setback for President Hu's efforts to retain major influence in the next administration. He will retire as president at the next annual national parliament session, which usually takes place in March.

Calls to the United Front Department and Organisation Department went unanswered on Monday.

Information deleted, blocked

Ling has been among the officials who are nearly always at Hu's side during visits at home and abroad over the past decade.

Chinese state media announced that he was replaced as head of the General Office by Li Zhanshu, aged 61, a close ally of Vice President Xi Jinping, a move that confirmed an 18 July Reuters report. Li cut his teeth in the Communist Youth League, Hu's power base, but is not seen as being as close to the current president as Ling.

The General Office is the organisational cockpit of the party's top leaders. It is responsible for shaping the policy agenda, deciding who those leaders meet, as well as their travel arrangements at home and abroad, and security details. Its head is roughly equivalent to the White House chief of staff.

The car crash first drew public interest in March when the Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, reported that online information about the accident had been deleted.

That triggered suspicions about the identity of the deceased and a storm online, but China's government censors have deleted all microblog posts mentioning the car crash and blocked searches of the words "Ferrari", "Little Ling" and "Prince Ling".

Read more on:    xi jinping  |  bo xilai  |  hu jintao  |  china
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.