Minitrue: “Connections Won’t Shield Graft Probes”

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites find and delete the article “Xinhua Commentary on Ling Zhengce’s Fall: Even Connections to the Imperial Court Won’t Save You.” Implement immediately. (June 19, 2014)

全网查删《新华社评令政策落马:朝里有人也不灵》一文,立即执。

Amid the Xi administration’s ongoing crackdown on official corruption, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced yesterday that Shanxi official Ling Zhengce, brother of a trusted aide to former president Hu Jintao, is now the subject of a fresh graft probe. The CCDI announcement also described a separate investigation into Ling’s fellow Shanxi official Du Shanxue, vice-governor of the province. The South China Morning Post reports:

The move underscores the widening crackdown against corrupt officials in coal-rich Shanxi province and suggests investigators could be closing in on Ling Jihua himself.

[…] Ling Zhengce, 62, is one of the three elder brothers of Ling Jihua. His phone was switched off yesterday.

[…] Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University in Beijing, said Ling Zhengce’s detention could be the prelude to an investigation into his younger brother.

“The final outcome … remains unknown but so far Ling Jihua has been clearly targeted,” Zhang said. “No one can survive the party’s scrutiny.”

A Shanxi native, Ling Jihua was said to be a founder of the so-called “Shanxi gang”, including officials who worked their way up the ranks in the province. [Source]

In 2012, top Hu Jintao aide Ling Jihua was scandalized and demoted after allegedly covering up the details of his son’s death in a Ferrari crash. Following the release of news on the probe into Ling Zhengce, Party mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency posted commentary entitled “Even Connections to the Imperial Court Can’t Save You” (朝里有人也不灵, the title borrowed from an adage on the benefits of ties to higher-ups). The commentary was quickly deleted, but can be read via CDT Chinese. More coverage from the South China Morning Post describes Xinhua’s now-deleted commentary:

Not even “having an ally high up in Beijing would help”, Xinhua said, in a jab at Ling, a brother of former presidential aide Ling Jihua.

The 517-word euphemism-laden commentary chose Ling’s case as a starting point, then named other cadres with good family connections and links to other officials in their hometowns.

The sharp words were published on one of Xinhua’s verified Weibo accounts this morning and were reposted by state media. The link did not trace back to Xinhua’s website, but to the agency’s mobile platform.

By 11am today, the piece was deleted by Xinhua and other state media. It was as yet unclear why.

[…] “Get used to this, when a turnip is pulled out, it will also drag out mud attached to it,” Xinhua said, also referring to officials from Shanxi, Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces. […] [Source]

Also see coverage of the commentary from the New York Times’ Chris Buckley, who provides further details on the rich language and contents of the Xinhua commentary, or the Times’ on the greater implications of newly announced probes in Shanxi, which could prove to be the site of an imminent “political earthquake.”

CDT collects directives from a variety of sources and checks them against official Chinese media reports to confirm their implementation.

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.

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