Ling Jihua

Chief of staff to Chinese president reveals details surrounding purge in secretariat

Several key members of the Communist Party’s nerve centre hindered the investigation into former top aide Ling Jihua, says Li Zhanshu

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 11:27pm

The chief of staff to Chinese President Xi Jinping has revealed startling details of a power struggle within the Communist Party’s secretariat related to the investigation of a former leadership aide.

The comments shed some light on a recent purge within the General Office of the Central Committee – the nerve centre of the party – following the downfall of the aide, Ling Jihua.

Ling, who served former president Hu Jintao, was jailed for life last month for bribery, among other crimes.

During the investigation ... some had hidden facts and some had resisted the investigation
Li Zhanshu, president’s chief of staff

According to the chief of staff, Li Zhanshu, several key members of the secretariat had hindered the investigation into Ling.

“During the investigation ... some had hidden facts and some had resisted the investigation. Those are not honest people,” Li said in a speech delivered in June to the General Office.

An edited transcript of Li’s remarks was carried on the website of People’s Daily on Friday.

“During Ling’s stint in office, some people courted, pandered to, and flattered him without ­principles,” he said.

Ling worked for 17 years in the office, which handles security, health care, paperwork and logistics for top leaders, with his last five as its chief. He was removed after his son died in a Ferrari car crash in Beijing in March 2012, an accident that fundamentally shifted the dynamic of China’s once-in-a-decade transition of power.

In the past three years, at least eight senior cadres from the office have also been removed from their posts. Among them is Huo Ke, who was the director of the office’s secretary bureau. He was expelled from the party for taking bribes and leaking state secrets to Ling, according to earlier state media reports.

When Ling told you to tell a lie, if you really didn’t dare to tell the truth, you could at least remain silent
Li Zhanshu, president’s chief of staff

Another casualty was Xia Yong, the former director of the office’s research branch, who was expelled from the country’s top advisory body, a punishment that indirectly confirms a reported investigation into his activities.

“When Ling told you to tell a lie, if you really didn’t dare to tell the truth, you could at least remain silent; when Ling did wrong, if you didn’t have the courage to expose it, you could at least refrain from being an accomplice,” Li said, according to the transcript.

Li said office employees – from drivers and chefs to guards and clerks – must remain absolutely loyal to the party – echoing an instruction made by Xi during an inspection in 2014.

Li, 66, also gave insight into the daily workloads of leaders and the sort of hours they kept.

“From the General Secretary [Xi] to other central leaders, who has the luxury to take a good rest during holidays? Often, documents are sent to our leaders at 11pm or even midnight, and signed documents are often received from our leaders at 11pm or midnight,” Li said.

He pointed to the visit that Xi made to Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan in late June as an example. Xi stayed in Serbia for 49 hours and his itinerary comprised 17 events; his 39-hour stop in Poland saw him involved in 13 events, while his three-day visit to Uzbekistan was filled with 36 events.

Xi “often started from very early in the morning and returned to the residence at 9pm or 10pm, without a lunch break, and he still had to read documents and handle daily administrative affairs”, Li said.