Ling Jihua was in line to become one of the top leaders in China’s Central Committee. But the car crash that killed his only son may also have killed his career. The botched cover-up of the accident Ling’s career hanging in the balance.
Back in March Ling’s son was driving a Ferrari at excessive speeds around Beijing’s super highways when he lost control and crashed. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The two-seater car had two more passengers – both young women. The dead male driver and one seriously injured female were naked. The other was partially clothed. All tested off the charts for alcohol. (See my earlier post “Naked, Drunk & Dead: Accident Cover-Up Unwinding China’s Leaders“.)
What killed Ling Jihua was the cover-up. The dead boy was said to be someone else. He was buried ignominiously. Ling went to work the next day. He traveled for State business.
For Ling Jihua his son’s death was treated as if nothing happened.
Just six months later the cover-up was exposed. International newspapers and blogs covered the accident in detail. Official state news reporting agencies in China didn’t report the accident – or the connection.
This week at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China delegates are voting in the Central Committee members. These are the “cream of the cream” who then run the nation for ten years. Yesterday initial elections eliminated 19 candidates and today the 247 member Presidium will review the finalists and determine who gets to lead the country. The Central Committee will be unveiled Thursday.
Early reports say Ling Jinhua will not be nominated, despite his long history of faithful service. His decision to attempt a cover-up has been negatively viewed by those attending the Congress. Some say Ling should be treated with the same harshness as Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing party chief whose wife is in prison for murder (see my earlier post “Sex, Money, Murder and now Missing. Corrupt Communist Bo Xilai Disappears“.)
What is certain is that factions within the Communist Party are vying for control, and any tainted representatives from conservative or progressive groups will be disqualified. Bo Xilai represented the “old era” Communists hoping for a return to State-backed social welfare and greater government intervention. Ling Jinhua is seen as a vanguard of the progressive group wanting continued market reforms and less government involvement in people’s’ lives.
For Bo and the conservatives, the murder by poison of Neil Heywood put an end to his career. For Ling and the progressives, the cover-up of a horrific car crash ended his career.
Death claimed the careers of two aspiring Communist party members. Murder by poison. Naked, drunk and dead. Just another week in the politics of China.