Friday, January 15, 2016

O brother where art thou: China in contact with US over extraditing brother of disgraced presidential aide

O brother where art thou: China in contact with US over extraditing brother of disgraced presidential aide

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 11:35pm
Beijing yesterday confirmed that the youngest brother of disgraced presidential aide Ling Jihua (令計劃) was hiding in the United States and that it was in talks with the US over Ling’s repatriation.
The confirmation follows a report in the South China Morning Post in September that the repatriation of Ling Wancheng topped the agenda when China’s security chief Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱) visited Washington to prepare for President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) state visit.
Ling Wancheng, a businessman and the youngest brother of Ling, a top aide to former president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), was reported to have fled to the US in what media described as “an intelligence coup at China’s expense”. The elder Ling has been accused of acquiring state and party secrets.
The information was disclosed yesterday at a press briefing by Liu Jianchao, director of the international cooperation bureau of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s internal watchdog.
“China is handling the matter of Ling Wancheng and is in talks with the US,” Liu said. Liu did not comment on a remark by a reporter that the younger Ling was a US citizen, which if true would complicate any extradition request.
Beijing is yet to disclose details of Ling Wancheng’s suspected crimes, but Liu’s answer was somewhat different from when he was asked about the younger Ling in December.
“This issue is nothing to do with me. I don’t know who is in charge of it,” Liu said then . “But if any Chinese citizen breaks Chinese law, they’ll be investigated.”

READ MORE - China wants US to repatriate disgraced presidential aide Ling Jihua’s brother: media

It was also announced at the press conference that Wei Hong, the current governor of Sichuan (四川) and an associate of the jailed national security tsar Zhou Yongkang (周永康), is suspected of “serious violations of discipline”, a euphemism for corruption.
The disclosure ends weeks of speculation about Wei’s whereabouts. Wei, 61, is expected to be the second serving governor to be investigated for corruption amid the central government’s sweeping anti-graft campaign.
Authorities announced in October that former governor of Fujian (福建), Su Shulin, was the subject of a graft probe. His resignation was accepted in November.
Wei was a deputy in the organisation department in Sichuan in charge of the appointment of party cadres when Zhou came to govern the province in 1999.
Wei was promoted twice before Zhou left in 2002, first as party boss in Ya’an (雅安) and later head of the organisation department.
Zhou was sentenced to life in prison last June for corruption, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets.
Sichuan has been one of the most severely punished areas in Beijing’s anti-graft campaign, with five officials at provincial or vice-provincial level sacked.
Wei has been absent from key meetings in Sichuan since December, raising speculation over his whereabouts.TheSouthern Weekly reported that Wei had not returned to his office in Chengdu (成都) after his trip to Beijing.