The anti-corruption campaign currently sweeping through all levels of the Chinese Communist Party may be drawing closer to former Party leader, Jiang Zemin.
Ni Fake, former vice governor of eastern China’s Anhui Province, was sentenced to 17 years in prison on Feb. 28 for taking bribes, according to China’s state-run news outlets.
News is also circulating among Chinese netizens that Ni is one of Jiang’s in-laws. While the connection has not yet been reported by China’s state-run media, the news has spread to Chinese news outlets in Hong Kong and overseas.
Ni was sentenced for taking over 13 million yuan (over $2 million) in bribes, and for owning 6 million yuan ($960,000) from unknown sources. He pleaded guilty of all charges at the Intermediate People’s Court in Dongying City of Shandong Province on Feb. 28, according to the state-run China News. He was sentenced to prison and a million yuan ($160,000) of his private property was confiscated.
Speculation into Ni’s background began when the investigation started in June 2013. In July 2014, mainland Chinese internet portal 9000wy.com published a report revealing that Ni is married to Jiang Zemin’s niece.
Ni’s wife, surnamed Peng, is daughter of Jiang Zehui who is the younger sister of Jiang Zemin, the report says.
In 1999, Ni, who was serving as a city-level official, had duped then-prime minister Zhu Rongji during an inspection. However, Ni wasn’t punished afterwards, which convinced people that he has strong connections.
Zhu left a record of the inspection in his book, Zhu Rongji on the Record.
“Before I went to visit the granary in Anling County of Anhui Province, it was all empty. They then moved food from other places, and filled the granary neatly. They even dare to cheat me. Audacious in the extreme!” he wrote.
Ni, who at the time was party secretary of Anling County, was responsible for altering the granary, which was allegeldy producing tainted products, according to state news media. Ni was not only safe afterwards, but was also later promoted.
There is broad speculation that Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is targeting Jiang Zemin in the current anti-corruption campaign.
Under Xi’s anti-corruption campaign in the past two years, a large number of officials who belonged to Jiang’s faction have been sacked, including high-level officials such as former security chief Zhou Yongkang and former military head Xu Caihou who are both close allies of Jiang. The sentencing of Ni may take it another step closer to Jiang.