Ling's arrest a vital lesson for officials

Updated: 2015-07-21 10:33

By Qiao Xinsheng(

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Ling's arrest a vital lesson for officials

Ling Jihua, the former vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, attends a meeting during this 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Ling Jihua has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and prosecutors have opened an investigation into his suspected crimes and decided to arrest him, authorities announced on Monday.

The arrest of Lin Jihua, former vice top political advisor, seven months after he was placed under internal investigation for disciplinary violations is a reflection of the central authorities’ resolve to fight corruption.

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee passed the ruling because Ling, according to Xinhua, had taken huge bribes, used his position to seek benefits for others and obtained many core secrets of the Party and the country in violation of Party discipline and the country’s laws.

By forming a political faction during his term in office, Ling poisoned the social atmosphere and soiled the Party’s established tradition of serving the people. Ling’s faction comprised not only backstage commanders, but also lower-level officials trying to climb up the political ladder. If Ling’s activities were not discovered in time, he could have dealt a blow to the cause of the Party and the nation, and entrapped more people his dirty game.

In the early days of New China, which was founded in 1949, the CPC adopted a series of policies and measures to promote normal exchanges among officials. Mutual exchanges and joint studies became more regular and institutionalized after the reform and opening-up were launched. As such, Ling’s activities can only be seen as an attempt to sabotage the appointment system of Party cadres and foster a personal allegiance-based culture in the bureaucracy. They also were an attempt to erode the foundation of the political and social structure.

To end such factionalism, the existing official selection system, largely characterized by the appointment of lower-level officials by their seniors, has to be reformed in order to grant the people greater say in the appointment of officials. Only in this way can officials be motivated to maintain close contacts with ordinary people and help resolve their practical problems, instead of only trying to keep their superior officials happy.

Also, leading officials should be made to spell out their administrative programs through an open channel before implementing them so that their work can be monitored and reviewed by the public. Such a practice will make it easier to promote public oversight.

Before being removed from the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, Ling held a leading position in the General Office of the Party Central Committee for a long time and thus had easy access to top secrets of the Party and country. And he took advantage of his position and power to form a “Shanxi group” by promoting some Party and government officials loyal to him despite their mediocre performance. Such acts have seriously damaged the normal mechanism of officials’ appointment. Worse, Lin promoted an unhealthy official atmosphere in which a number of corrupt officials acquired high and even leading positions in their respective regions.

Ling’s case should be a vital lesson: a ruling party needs to make system for officials’ selection and appointment more open and transparent, or else officials indulging in flattery could be promoted to leading posts despite their mediocrity. Ling’s case should also remind us that we should be cautious against and take measures to prevent malpractices in the appointment of officials in some regions and some sections.

Investigations have revealed that in certain regions and departments, only officials from a small circle have the chance of being promoted, prompting many officials to spend all their energy and time to keep their seniors happy while neglecting their actual duty to serve the people. In some regions, senior officials have the decisive say in the appointment and promotion of lower-level officials, making the official appointment mechanism and soliciting of public opinion just formal routines.

Because of the existence of such unofficial arrangements, some officials create good-looking projects to strengthen their political performance and get more opportunities for promotion.

A profound reflection on Ling’s case will help improve the officials’ promotion system and the credibility of the Party. Ling’s case has also underscored the need to set up a transparent appointment and promotion mechanism as soon as possible, in which public appraisals have a bigger say. This will greatly the boost the efforts to cleanse the soil that breeds malpractices and corruption.

The author is a professor of anti-corruption studies at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.