China charges former president's top aide Ling Jihua

Ling Jihua, former vice chairman of the Chinese People"s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), pauses during a meeting, in Beijing in this March 11, 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ling Jihua's arrest comes during a sustained effort to combat corruption

A former top aide to ex-Chinese President Hu Jintao has been charged with corruption and removed from the party, according to state media.

Ling Jihua is accused of taking bribes and committing sexual misconduct, news agency Xinhua said.

Mr Ling was demoted in 2012 after reports that his son died in a high-speed Ferrari crash in Beijing.

His arrest comes amid a crackdown on alleged corruption by current president Xi Jinping.

An investigation into Mr Ling's alleged wrongdoing was announced by authorities in December. He was accused at the time of "serious disciplinary violations" - usually a euphemism for corruption.

Xinhua has now reported that Mr Ling "seriously violated the political discipline and rules of the CPC (Communist Party of China)", citing a statement released by the ruling party's central committee.

"He took advantage of his posts to seek profit for others and accepted huge bribes personally and through his family," the report said.


The report also accused Mr Ling of using his position to commit adultery and benefit his wife's business.

Communist Party members can be charged with adultery as they are supposed to be upstanding members of society. The charge is frequently levelled at officials accused of corruption.

Mr Ling - once a senior figure within the party, equivalent to a US president's chief of staff - suffered a huge blow to his career from the scandal that followed his son's car crash.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ling Jihua's son was driving a Ferrari 458 Spider super car when he was killed

Despite a media blackout over the event, reports suggested there were two young women in the car, one nude and one partially clothed.

Other members of Mr Ling's family have been accused of corruption but not charged, according to Xinhua.

An investigation was announced into his brother, Ling Zhengce, last June.

Mr Xi has targeted several high-ranking officials in his crackdown on corruption, including former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, 72, who the government said last month had been jailed for life following a closed-door trial.

Last year, former top economic official Liu Tienan was jailed for life for accepting millions of dollars in bribes.

Critics say President Xi's campaign is as much about eliminating political rivals as it is about tackling corruption.

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