January 20, 2015 / 11:29 AM / 3 years ago

Chinese advisory body set to expel former senior aide to Hu Jintao

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s top parliamentary advisory body is set to expel a one-time senior aide to former president Hu Jintao, state media reported on Tuesday, after the ruling Communist Party announced he was being investigated for corruption.

Ling Jihua, who heads a party body charged with reaching out to non-Communists and holds a rank equivalent to a vice premier, is at the center of one of China’s biggest corruption scandals since President Xi Jinping launched his sweeping battle against graft in 2013.

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a largely ceremonial but high-profile advisory body, has proposed a draft to expel Ling, state news agency Xinhua said on its microblog. The draft will be submitted to the CPPCC’s Standing Committee.

Xinhua gave no details of Ling’s alleged crimes.

In December, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog said that Ling was being investigated for “suspected serious discipline violations”, the usual euphemism for graft. It gave no other details.

Ling was demoted in September 2012 after sources said his son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car.

The car, a Ferrari according to some sources, crashed in Beijing in March 2012 in an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party, which is sensitive to perceptions that children of top party officials live rich, privileged lifestyles completely out of touch with the masses, the sources said.

Ling was dropped from his post as head of the party’s General Office of the Central Committee, a powerful post similar to cabinet secretary in Westminster-style governments.

He was then appointed as minister for the less influential United Front Work Department, which is in charge of co-opting non-Communists, religious groups and ethnic minorities.

It was not possible to reach him for comment and it is not clear if he has a lawyer.

China’s campaign against official corruption has intensified since Xi took over as president, with several senior government figures and state company executives in detention.

Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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