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Anti-Corruption Campaign in China Snares Former Top Party Official

BEIJING — Chinese prosecutors have charged one of the Communist Party’s top former officials, Ling Jihua, with taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets, and abuse of power, according to a report Friday by Xinhua, the state news agency.

Ling is one of the highest-ranking officials to be taken down under the sweeping anticorruption campaign run by President Xi Jinping and his ally, Wang Qishan, who manages the party agency in charge of discipline and inspection.

The report said the indictment was filed in a court in Tianjin but did not say when a trial might be held. If recent history is a guide, Ling will almost certainly be convicted of the crimes and have to serve a long prison sentence.

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Under the previous president and Communist Party chief, Hu Jintao, Ling rose to be the head of the General Office, which handles administrative matters for the party chief and other senior officials. He was the equivalent of the White House chief of staff.

Ling’s downfall began after party leaders discovered in 2012 that he had tried to hide that his son, Ling Gu, 23, had died in a car crash in Beijing. Details of the crash became commonplace in Beijing political circles: Two women in the Ferrari were injured; one later died.

Ling was moved to a lesser post as head of the United Front Work Department ahead of schedule, and internal party conflicts over his actions weakened Hu, who was working out details of the transfer of power to Xi that year.

Talk began circulating that Ling had also engaged in shadowy dealings with Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai, two other senior party officials who were facing corruption investigations. Political insiders in China said senior officials were mentioning all three men as enemies of Xi. Both Zhou and Bo have been convicted of corruption and are in prison.

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New York Times