Beijing (AsiaNews) - Ling Jihua (picture. right), a former secretary and close associate of former President Hu Jintao (picture, left), is officially under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline for "suspicious serious disciplinary violations", a term usually used in cases of corruption offences.
Ling is another of the "tigers" caught in the net of the anti-corruption drive President Xi Jinping launched two years ago, which has already brought down Zhou Yongkang, former security czar and member of the Central Committee of the Politburo, and Xu Caihou, former deputy director of the Central Military Commission.
For Xi Jinping, the battle against corruption is necessary to boost image of the Communist Party, which has lost legitimacy in the wake of scandals. However, only figures from other party factions have been affected, raising suspicions that Xi is using his campaign as part of a political struggle within the Party.
Ling Jihua, considered a rising star and a member of the sixth leadership generation, might have taken Xi's place; however, he fell out of favour after an accident involving his son Ling Gu.
Ling Gu's half-naked body was recovered after his Ferrari crashed and caught fire in March 2012 in Beijing. Two women with him, one naked and one partially clothed, were seriously injured.
Ling Jihua tried to cover up the incident. However, the latter has come to symbolise the moral emptiness, waste, and crass materialism of the offspring of senior Party leaders.
Meanwhile, one of Ling's brothers, Ling Zhengce, is being investigated in Shanxi; a younger brother, Ling Wangchen, a businessman, has also been under investigation in the past few weeks.
The Global Times, the English edition of the People's Daily, is the only paper giving the Ling case broad coverage. In a recent piece, it wrote that the Ling family "was consumed by the power he [Ling Jihua] possessed and abused it for ill-gotten gains".