The spectacular and fatal crash of a Ferrari in Beijing in March 2012 quickly came to symbolize the decadent lifestyle of the children of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite. Recently, Chinese netizens and others have raised grave doubts about the widely publicized account of hijinks turned deadly, and a Hong Kong magazine has quoted high-level sources in Beijing as saying the crash was in fact political murder.
Early in the morning of March 18, 2012 a black two-seater Ferarri carrying Ling Gu, the son of Central Committee member Ling Jinghua, bounced off the south wall of the Baofusi Bridge and smashed into the guardrail on the north side. Ling Gu was found dead, ejected from the car. Two female students riding in the car were critically injured.
On the day of the accident, the Beijing Evening News published a report on the crash with photos showing the burning engine block separated from the main body of the car.
The next day, Beijing News also published photos and an article detailing an eyewitness’ account of how the accident occurred.
Neither story revealed the identity of the driver.
Two days after the crash, the English-language edition of the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper supervised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece People’s Daily, published an article alleging a “crash cover-up.”
In that article, the writer reported that microblog postings and news reports about the crash had been deleted from many popular websites, and online searches for the word “Ferrari” had been blocked.
“It just proves that this young man must have a special background; maybe he’s a high-ranking official’s son,” it quoted a local resident as saying.
It was this Global Times story that first drew suspicion among the public about the identity of the deceased, according to Reuters.
With the media coverage having heightened speculation about what the real story of the car crash might be, in June 2012 the U.S.-based Chinese-language news site Boxun first reported that Ling Gu was the driver. The Hong Kong-based Mingjing News published a similar article soon after.
Boxun reported that Ling was found naked and drunk and claimed he was playing sex games with the two female passengers before the wreck occurred. The two women, said to be from Beijing’s Minzu University, were also reported to be naked. One of the women was said now to be paralyzed.
Boxun’s June report prompted worldwide speculation about the crash. A number of observers asked whether the trio were really playing sex games, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
“How much space does the sports car have? If one of the girls was sitting on Ling’s lap, could he still drive? He would really need acrobatic skill,” read an article on the Mingjing News blog. “How, when the trio had been thrown out of the car, could the firemen know they had been playing sex games in the Ferrari before the crash?”
A September report by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post confirmed, from Beijing sources, that Ling Gu was killed in the crash and that the two women were ethnic students, one Uygur and one Tibetan.
But the Post also quoted another media outlet’s version as saying that Ling Gu was neither the driver nor the owner of the Ferrari and that no sexual things had been going on before the crash.
Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based commentator was skeptical about the conflicting news stories. “The ‘with Tibetan and Uyghur in Ferrari’ part of story sounds contrived in order to do maximum reputational damage. Call me skeptical on that detail,” he wrote on his Twitter account @niubi.
China’s netizens commented heavily on the scandal. One of those who questioned the media’s account of the Ferrari crash goes by the pseudonym of “Nile.”
Based on his study of the wreckage photos and the published stories about the crash, Nile raised grave doubts in a series of articles on DWnews.com, a U.S.-based Chinese-language website.
“It was very cold in the early morning of March in Beijing. It has been noted that the Ferrari’s windows were fully opened, implying that they were in no condition to play sex games. Also, the two earliest reports [both the Beijing Evening News and the Beijing News] did not mention anyone of the trio being naked,” Nile wrote.
The same reporter in the Beijing Evening News article also contributed to the Beijing News story. Nile noticed that there was a significant difference in these two versions.
In the Beijing Evening News article, which was published first, an eyewitness only saw the smashed car. In the Beijing News story a man surnamed Shen witnessed the entire accident.
Shen supposedly witnessed the Ferrari crash while looking in his rearview mirror. According to Shen, he heard the thunderous roar of the engine and observed a dark shadow dashing into his car. Shen quickly pressed the accelerator to speed ahead, when he saw the shadow behind his car crash into the concrete wall.
“The broken pieces fell down on my car, making a crackling sound. I saw a burning vehicle in front of my car on the left side,” the Beijing News quoted Shen as saying. It added that some broken parts of the Ferrari engine landed at the right-rear side of his car while the main Ferrari body was at the left-front side of it.
Nile has suggested that there are two possibilities of how the crash occurred based on the two reports
“If the Ferrari was behind his car, then after the crash, it should have landed at the left-rear side of his car, and not its left front; if the Ferrari did land in front of his car, then he should never have seen it hit the wall behind his car,” said Nile.
“He might have seen it crashing into the wall on the right side parallel to his car and then finally coming to a stop after bumping into the north-side guardrail. But ‘Shen’ didn’t say how the Ferrari drove from the back of his car to the left front of it,” said Nile.
Regarding Boxun’s report that the trio were engaging in sex games, Nile said: “There is no way such stories can be verified without reliable eyewitness evidence. Even if ‘Shen’ indeed existed, it was impossible for him to see what happened in the vehicle at a single glance.
“When he saw some vehicle come straight towards his car at tremendous speed, his first reaction was to escape from it by speeding up his car. At the moment of unexpected danger, how could he have his mind on looking at what was going on inside the vehicle?”
Nile concluded the reports by Beijing News and Boxun were telling lies.
On the basis of the two wreckage photos in Beijing Evening News, Nile also raised doubts about its story.
“The first picture that captured the Ferrari’s separated engine and front-left wheel from the main body, clearly shows that the front-left side of the Ferrari was damaged more seriously than its front-right side. This suggests that the front-right side against the south-side wall was a small-angle crash, causing a violent left turn and then hitting the north-side barrier.”
From the second picture, which captured the rear view of the crashed Ferrari, Nile observed: “The rear end of the Ferrari was seriously destroyed and almost entirely removed from the main body. This shows the Ferrari was hit from behind by a strong force fairly evenly distributed on both sides of the car.”
Because this hard blow from behind was not explained, Nile believes the Beijing Evening News also did not tell the truth.
“The only explanation of the wrecked Ferrari is that the Ferrari first underwent a heavy blow from behind, then hit the south-side wall, causing its loss of control, followed by turning left, crossing the road, and crashing into the north-side guardrail, thereby leading to the engine and the front-left wheel falling off,” concluded Nile.
“This explanation requires a precondition that the impact points mentioned in the first report [the Beijing Evening News] must stand repeatable verification. If the above interpretation holds true, it is quite certain that Ling Gu was murdered,” said Nile.
“If Ling Gu was really murdered by a car accident, then the whole process must be the result of a behind-the-scenes political manipulation.”
According to a well-placed source in Beijing, as reported by Canada-based veteran journalist and political analyst Jiang Weiping, an investigation showed that Ling Gu’s body contained an unbelievably excessive amount of alcohol, despite the fact that he disliked drinking, and that there were blunt force injuries on the back of his head.
The source said that Ling Gu had met with a mishap when he was on his way back from a party and that there were no sex games going on. Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine (Qian Shao) also confirmed this.
Frontline reported that Ling Gu’s crash was very suspicious and definitely an unusual car accident. The report cited high-level sources in Beijing as saying the Ferrari incident was in fact a political murder.
That charge depends for its motive on the high-stakes struggle for power that has taken place behind the scenes in the CCP.
In early December, Epoch Times reported that Ling Gu’s father, Ling Jihua, and former premier Wen Jiabao were considered bitter enemies by the faction headed by former paramount leader Jiang Zemin.
Ling Jihua was known to be then-Party chief Hu Jintao’s closest and most trusted advisor, a political fixer who took care of urgent and sensitive tasks for Hu. Twice Ling thwarted the Jiang faction’s plans to hold power in the CCP.
In September 2006, Ling Jihua helped Hu Jintao remove Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu, presumed to be Jiang Zemin’s choice to succeed Hu Jintao as the Party head. If Chen had remained viable when the 17th Party Congress met in October 2007, he might have secured office that would have prepared the way for his elevation to Party chief at the next Party Congress in 2012.
The faction eventually selected Bo Xilai, then the Party boss of the southwestern megalopolis of Chongqing, as its next hope for gaining power.
In 2011, Ling Jihua led the Central Disciplinary Committee to investigate Bo Xilai’s right-hand man Wang Lijun, leading to a feud between Wang and Bo. That feud caused Bo to turn on Wang, and Wang fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
After Wang was taken into the custody of Hu Jintao’s men, the story he then told is believed to have provided the evidence used for taking down Bo Xilai in March 2012.
Three days after Bo Xilai was removed from the post of Chongqing Party Secretary, the Ferrari crash occurred.
According to Frontline, the then-domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang and Zeng Qinghong (also a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee and close ally of Jiang Zemin) meant to send a warning to the top Party leaders to give up Bo’s case.
Jiang Weiping also saw factional politics at work: “Those who are hostile toward Ling Jihua, without a doubt, must be Bo Xilai and his faction…. Ling has been directly involved in dealing with Bo’s case, inevitably becoming their political foe. The ‘Ferrari crash’ was just a political intrigue, in which the son of Ling Jihua turned out to be a victim of political infighting.”
Frontline reported that Ling has not cremated his son’s body since the crash, and instead is keeping the body in a freezer. Ling has demanded that the CCP conduct a thorough investigation into his son’s death and find out who behind the scenes was responsible.
In one post, Nile pronounced a kind of benediction on Ling Gu: “May he rest in peace, restrain the living’s grief, and accept the change. Heaven’s justice will be pursued fairly and fully in the human world.”