Brother of scandal-hit Chinese official Ling Jihua is sacked

Ling Zhengce, seen here in 2011, has been removed from his post as a vice-president of the Shanxi provincial branch of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference. He is the brother of Chinese politician Ling Jihua, a former president
Ling Zhengce, seen here in 2011, has been removed from his post as a vice-president of the Shanxi provincial branch of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference. He is the brother of Chinese politician Ling Jihua, a former presidential ally whose son was killed in a scandalous Ferrari crash in 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The brother of Chinese politician Ling Jihua, once a presidential ally whose son was killed in a scandalous Ferrari crash, has been sacked from his post, the Communist Party's official news website said on Monday.

Ling Zhengce, 62, has been removed as a vice-president of the Shanxi provincial branch of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, a debating chamber which is part of China's party-controlled government structure, according to a report by cpcnews.cn.

The sacking comes after the party's central disciplinary body announced last week that he was being investigated for "serious discipline violations", generally a euphemism for graft.

Ling Jihua's son died as a result of a high-speed crash in Beijing in March 2012 that also left two women passengers hurt, one of whom was naked, according to media reports at the time.

Photographs of the crash in 2012 were briefly circulated online, sparking questions about how the son of a government official could afford a luxury sports car worth a reported five million yuan (around S$1 million).

The father kept his post in the ruling party's 205-member central committee, but failed to rise to the next level - the 25-person Politburo - and was given a lower-profile job heading the party's United Front department.

The Communist party's leadership appointments are decided in an opaque process which analysts say depends on backroom deals between competing factions, often based on regional or family ties.

The fall of Ling's brother - whose post carried vice-ministerial rank - has sparked speculation in China's state-controlled media that an investigation against Ling himself, once a right-hand man of former Chinese President Hu Jintao, was probably looming.

The official Xinhua news agency on Friday published a commentary on one of its verified accounts on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo comparing the probe into Ling Zhengce with the fall of a brother of former railways minister Liu Zhijun.

Liu was later sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve - a penalty normally commuted to life imprisonment - for taking 64.6 million yuan in bribes.

Officials who have been put under investigation in recent years "have built up corrupted families using their blood or marital ties", said the article, according to a repost.

The original was quickly deleted but it was widely reproduced by other Chinese media outlets, including the People's Daily Online, the website of the Communist party's official mouthpiece.

The commentary added such individuals "will eventually bring disgrace and ruin upon themselves just like the Liu brothers, no matter how high-ranking their post was or how powerful they were".