Ling Jihua

Diverse work of disgraced top Chinese official Ling Jihua’s wife ‘all linked to his power base’

Gu Liping’s jobs ranging from NGO work, entrepreneurial mentorship and even journalism were all tied to the China Youth League

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 January, 2015, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 12:49pm

Gu Liping – the wife of Ling Jihua, disgraced chief aide to China’s former president Hu Jintao – appears to be a jack of all trades, dabbling in jobs ranging from NGO work, entrepreneurial mentorship, and even journalism. But one factor that ties her diverse work together is their link to her husband’s power base, the China Youth League.

Ling was dismissed as vice-chairman of China’s political advisory body after he came under corruption investigation late last year, and Gu has been taken in by the state’s top graft-buster, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, while it investigates Ling.

Gu, 56, was founder and chief secretary general of the Youth Business China (YBC), an NGO which focuses on bolstering entrepreneurship in the country, from 2003 to 2013, the China Business News reported.

Yang Huadong, Gu’s major partner at the NGO and head of several energy reservation firms, said Gu invited him to join the NGO in 2002 after she returned from a trip to Britain, where she represented the League to study entrepreneurship incubation programmes there.

YBC’s list of mentors include Gu and Yang as well as Zeng Xianbo, a Shandong-based tycoon believed to have been caught up in the corruption investigation against Ling. Zeng is president of Qingdao Furi Group, a leading car distributor that also provides real estate development, financial investment and luxury operation services.

Zeng’s company told China Business News that he was “working as normal and not suitable for interviews right now”.

YBC is a key project managed by the Ying Foundation, which Gu had set up in 2010 and that is under the League’s administration. The foundation is believed to have the support of many Chinese businessmen, with several serving as its board members.

In 2013, Gu quit the foundation in order to consolidate YBC’s “innovation research”. She would focus on YBC’s strategic and system research, the newspaper reported.

Apart from having founded an NGO and mentored aspiring entrepreneurs, Gu also reported and written for the League-administered China Youth Research magazine about 20 years ago.

She has served as vice-chairman of another League-affiliated unit, the China National Youth Palace Association, which she led on provincial visits where local leaders – including disgraced former Yunnan party boss Bai Enpei – gave them high-profile receptions. She was also the legal representative of two companies supported by the association; both were in operation from 2002 to 2007.

Gu has also been involved in Ling’s family business. Her foundation once paid half a million yuan to Qiangshi Lingyu Advertisement Company, which is believed to be owned by a firm whose investors include Sun Shumin and Ling Hujian. Sun is the widow of Ling Jihua’s eldest brother Ling Fangzhen, and Ling Hujian is their son.