China’s party purge is targeting the top adviser to current President Xi Jinping’s predecessor, Hu Jintao. Reuters:
In a terse and brief statement on its website, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog said that Ling Jihua was being investigated for “suspected serious discipline violations”, the usual euphemism for graft. It gave no other details.
There are signals, however, that this investigation may not end in prosecution. That would be a departure from the usual pattern; so far the announcement of investigation has been tantamount to an official’s eventual demise (as in the cases of Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihu):
But two sources with ties to the leadership said that Ling, who heads a party body charged with reaching out to non-Communists and holds a rank equivalent to a vice premier, may escape prosecution.“He is under investigation, but it does not necessarily mean he will be prosecuted,” one source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.“This is Xi Jinping being fair,” the source added, meaning that the president is keen to show his campaign will target anyone and that nobody is safe, no matter what their party affiliations.
Curiouser and curiouser.It’s unclear whether this investigation signals that Xi’s party purge is opening up yet another broad new front at the top of Chinese government, the most recent former president’s inner circle. But at the very least, it signals that Xi doesn’t treat Hu’s guys as out of bounds.