When Communist Party antigraft investigators decided to purge the high-ranking official Ling Jihua, key aide to the former regime leader and later head of the shadowy United Front Department, they forgot one thing: He’s got a brother in the United States.
Ling Wancheng, the brother, could have all manner of secrets about corruption and politicking at the highest levels of the Party, according to Chen Xiaoping, a veteran analyst of Chinese politics and an editor with the magazine Mingjing Monthly.
In part, this may have explained why Ling hardly seemed troubled as he got dressed, after a nap, and walked from his home escorted by officials from the much-feared Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. If his younger brother had key, damaging information about the Party—such as embarrassing details of high-ranking Chinese officials pocketing illicit wealth or committing crimes—then he is unlikely to be treated too roughly.
Chen presented this theory and others in a recent interview with Radio France Internationale, relying on his sources in China. Chen Xiaoping lives in the New York area and has for many years been a figure in the Chinese overseas publishing circuit. He was a pro-democracy intellectual during the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989 and accused of scheming to “mold counterrevolutionary opinion” but escaped jail time.
So far, the whereabouts of Ling Wancheng are unknown, despite what Chen Xiaoping says are the tremendous efforts of Chinese officials to discover them—including the dispatch of 100 agents and diplomatic officials to the United States to track him down. According to Chen, the Chinese regime is working with the U.S. government to follow different leads.
Ling Jihua was put under investigation and removed from office last December. His most recent role was head of the United Front Work Department, an agency that aims to expand the influence of the Chinese Communist Party overseas. Prior to that, he served as the equivalent of a chief of staff for former regime leader Hu Jintao.
Ling Jihua and Ling Wancheng aren’t the only brothers from the Ling family that the Chinese regime is after. In June last year, Ling Zhengce, the most senior of the three, and the vice chairman of the Shanxi People’s Political Consultative Conference in central China, was put under investigation, according to an announcement by the anti-corruption watchdog.
Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, is reportedly in charge of bringing the younger Ling back to China, says Chen Xiaoping. Even Xi Jinping asks for updates on developments.
“As long as Ling Wancheng is in the United States, Chinese authorities cannot do anything about it. The case against Ling Jihua will be at stalemate,” Chen said. “Perhaps it might even take a twist.”