Ling Jihua

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ling.
Ling Jihua
Ling Jihua(VOA)-2.jpg
Head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China
Assumed office
September 2012
General secretary Xi Jinping
Preceded by Du Qinglin
Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China
In office
September 19, 2007 – August 31, 2012
General secretary Hu Jintao
Preceded by Wang Gang
Succeeded by Li Zhanshu
Personal details
Born Linghu Jihua (令狐计划)
(1956-10-22) October 22, 1956 (age 58)
Pinglu County, Shanxi Province
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Gu Liping
Relations Ling Zhengce (brother)
Ling Wancheng (brother)
Linghu Luxian (sister)
Children Ling Gu (son; d. 2012)
Residence Beijing
Alma mater Hunan University
Occupation Politician
Ling Jihua
Simplified Chinese 令计划
Traditional Chinese 令計劃

Ling Jihua (Chinese: 令计划; born October 22, 1956) is a Chinese politician and one of the principal political advisers of Hu Jintao, former President and General Secretary of the Communist Party.[1] Since 2012, he has served as Vice Chairman of the National Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Ling began his career as a functionary in regional branches of the Communist Youth League in his native Shanxi Province. His Youth League involvement propelled him to the national-level organization in 1979. At the Youth League Ling worked in its propaganda department and edited its flagship newspaper. Closely following the footsteps of his patron Hu Jintao, Ling was promoted to a leadership position in the General Office of the Communist Party of China in 1999, and became an important member of the State Commission for Public Sector Reform.

Ling rose to become the Director of the General Office, an organ that handles day-to-day logistics and bureaucratic functions of the Communist Party, in 2007, when Hu was the party's General Secretary. He was seen as a promising candidate for promotion to the top leadership at the 18th Party Congress in 2012. His political fortunes abruptly took a turn when his 23-year-old son was killed while driving a Ferrari in 2012, an event that caused embarrassment for the party elite. He has since then served in mostly ceremonial roles with little actual power.

Ling was placed under investigation by the party's anti-graft agency on December 22, 2014.[2]


Early Career[edit]

Born Linghu Jihua, Ling was the third son to Linghu Ye (令狐野), a party official, in Pinglu County, Shanxi Province. He and all four of his siblings received names related to the Communist Party's policies. His own name, Jihua, means "planning". In December 1973, as with many other young Chinese, he was sent to work in the countryside as part of the Down to the Countryside Movement. Ling worked in a printing factory.[3] "Linghu" is a very rare surname, eventually most members of the Ling family shortened the "Linghu" to "Ling".

In June 1975, Ling was admitted into the Communist Youth League (CYL) organization in Pinglu County, and was soon elevated to deputy secretary of the local CYL committee. He joined the Communist Party of China in June 1976. In December 1978, Ling was transferred to Communist Party's Yuncheng Committee in Shanxi. In 1979, Communist Youth League's central organization selected young cadres nationwide to work in the capital. Ling, at the age of 23, was recruited to work in the propaganda department of CYL Central Committee.[3]

Rising through the ranks in Beijing[edit]

From August 1983, Ling studied at China Youth Political Academy, affiliated to CYL, majoring in political education. In July 1985, Ling worked in the political theory section of the propaganda department of CYL. At that time, Hu Jintao was the First Secretary (i.e., leader), of the Youth League. From June 1988, Ling served in various posts in CYL, mostly as part of the CYL Secretariat and the CYL General Office. He also served as editor-in-chief of Chinese Communist Youth League, the primary theory publication of the CYL, and between 1994 and 1995, the CYL's chief of propaganda.

In December 1995, after serving in CYL for over ten years, Ling was transferred to General Office of the Communist Party of China, and continued his work in political theory. Between 1994 and 1996 Ling obtained an "on-job master's degree" in commercial management at Hunan University. In June 1998, he was promoted to head of research office of the General Office (中央办公厅调研室主任). In December 1999, Ling was appointed as deputy director of General Office. Later, he also served as the deputy chief of the General Office in charge of the Central Institutional Organization Commission, and chief of staff of the Office of General Secretary Hu Jintao.

On September 19, 2007 Ling was promoted to become Director of General Office of CPC Central Committee, the nerve center of the party that was in charge of all manner of administrative activities of the party's central authorities, including communications and leaders' scheduling and agendas. He also became a Secretary of the Central Secretariat, in charge of day-to-day execution of tasks set forth by the party's Politburo.

Son's Ferrari Crash[edit]

Throughout Hu Jintao's presidency, Ling accompanied Hu on trips abroad and was often seen with Hu on inspection visits around the country. As one of Hu Jintao's closest associates and most trusted advisors, in addition to being of an acceptable range of seniority, Ling long seemed long destined for higher office. Ling's political fortunes, however, took an abrupt turn in 2012. On March 18, Ling's only son, Ling Gu, was involved in a car crash on Beijing's 4th Ring Road while driving a black[1] Ferrari 458 Spider accompanied by two women, reportedly of minority ethnic background, who survived.[4] Ling Gu was found naked, and the women were described as either naked or otherwise "scantily clad." These circumstances have led to speculation that Ling Gu was involved in a sex game while they were driving.[1][5] In November 2012, an 'exclusive' from the South China Morning Post reported that Jiang Jiemin, then chief executive of China National Petroleum Corporation, wired money from the company's accounts to the families of the two women involved in the crash to keep silent.[4]

News of the crash was reported in mainland Chinese media shortly after it happened, but the story was then rapidly suppressed.[6] Reportedly, Ling Jihua, after viewing the body of the driver at the morgue, denied it was his son.[7] Ling reportedly mobilized the Central Security Bureau, an organ in charge of national leaders' security which reported into the General Office, to cover up the crash.[8] Chinese media also reported that Ling had contacted Zhou Yongkang, then chief of the powerful Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, to reach unspecified "political deals" in exchange for assistance on covering up the death of his son.[9] Ling then went on to work as normal.[10] In China, Internet search terms such as "Ferrari", "Little Ling" and "Prince Ling" were blocked.[5]

Many commentators have questioned how Ling Gu could afford a car worth some $500,000 when his parents had government jobs.[5] The crash is thought to be connected with Ling Jihua's demotion in August 2012,[1][5] and his wife Gu Liping's removal from her job in January 2013.[11]

Demotion and investigation[edit]

On September 1, 2012, prior to the transfer of power between Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping at the pivotal 18th Party Congress, Ling was abruptly transferred from his position as General Office chief to become head of the largely ceremonial United Front Work Department. This was seen as a demotion for Ling. At the 18th Party Congress, Ling did not gain a seat on the Politburo as expected, nor did he retain his position as Secretary of the Secretariat.[9] He was elected as one of the Vice-Chairmen of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March 2013, barely holding onto his status as a "national leader".

In the latter half of 2014, members of the Ling family were successively detained by the authorities (see "Family" section below). Rumours circulated about Ling's own fate. Ling was officially placed under investigation by the party's anti-graft agency on December 22, 2014.[2] Several weeks prior to the announcement of the investigation, Ling continued to make appearances on state television in his position of CPPCC Vice Chairman and United Front chief. On December 15 Ling had penned an article on the Communist theory publication Qiushi brimming with praise for the signature political philosophies of Xi Jinping such as the "Chinese Dream". This was seen by observers as a 'last-ditch' declaration of fealty to the new Chinese leader with whom Ling was thought to have lost favour.[9]

Ling was one of the highest-profile targets (next to Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou) of the anti-corruption campaign following the 18th Party Congress spearheaded by Xi Jinping and central discipline chief Wang Qishan. He was the second sitting "national leader"-level figure to be investigated by the party's anti-graft agency, after CPPCC Vice-Chairman Su Rong.

Ling was an alternate member of 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, a full member of 17th and 18th Central Committees, and a member of the 17th Central Secretariat.


An image of Ling Gu's fatal crash which widely circulated on the Chinese internet.

Ling is married to Gu Liping (谷丽萍), Director General of Youth Business China a non-profit program that aims to promote youth entrepreneurship that is headquartered in Beijing. In 2010 she was deputy director of the Ying Public Interest Foundation, a charity sponsored by the Communist Youth League. In that role she reportedly solicited donations for the foundation.[11] Gu was thought to be placed in custody prior to the initiation of the investigation on Ling Jihua.

Ling and Gu had one son, Ling Gu (令谷), born c. 1989, alias Wang Ziyun (王子云), who majored in international relations at Peking University. Ling Gu died in March 2012 at the age of 23 in the aforementioned Ferrari crash.[5]

Ling had three brothers and one sister. His eldest brother, Ling Fangzhen (令方针), was in the military, and died after a fall while cleaning windows in 1977. Ling's second eldest brother, Ling Zhengce(令政策), was a provincial-level politician in Shanxi Province. Zhengce was placed under investigation by the Communist Party's anti-graft agency in June 2014. His sister, Linghu Luxian (令狐路线), was a hospital executive in the city of Yuncheng, and was married to the city's Vice-Mayor Wang Jiankang (王健康); the couple disappeared from public view for several months in 2014, suspected of being placed under investigation, but re-appeared later on. Ling's younger brother Ling Wancheng (令完成) was a businessman and golf enthusiast, who was also detained by the authorities for investigation in November 2014.


  1. ^ a b c d Mosettig, Michael D. (November 7, 2012). "Red Ferraris in Red China". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "令计划涉嫌严重违纪正接受组织调查" (in Chinese). Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 
  3. ^ a b "令计划官方简历". Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Staff Reporters (November 14, 2012). "Exclusive: oil chief quizzed over massive cash transfers in Ferrari crash cover-up". South China Morning Post. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Hall, John (September 5, 2012). "Son of Chinese politician died after engaging in 'sex games' with two women while driving at high speed in his Ferrari". London: Independent. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Online restrictions after China Ferrari crash - media". BBC News. March 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ Nicholas D. Kristof (January 5, 2013). "Looking for a Jump-Start in China" (opinion). The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Ling feared a scandal and reportedly began a cover-up. He went to the morgue, according to the account I got from one Chinese official, and looked at the body — and then coldly denied that it was his son. He continued to work in the following weeks as if nothing had happened. 
  8. ^ "神秘的法拉利车祸". The Wall Street Journal. October 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "陆媒:令计划与周永康薄熙来有同盟关系". Duowei. December 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Beijing car crash opens door to another scandal in China". Los Angeles Times. September 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "PREMIER LEAGUE: After fatal Ferrari crash, careers are stalled, group loses power". The Asahi Shimbun. March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Du Qinglin
Head of the United Front Work Department
of the Communist Party of China

2012 –
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Wang Gang
Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China
2007 – 2012
Succeeded by
Li Zhanshu