Former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s most senior aide has been arrested on corruption charges, stripped of his party membership and removed from all government positions.
The ruling by the Communist Party’s Politburo came seven months after Ling Jihua was placed under internal investigation for disciplinary violations.
The fall of Ling, whose former position is comparable to the US president’s chief of staff, has come amid a stern anti-corruption campaign by Mr Hu’s successor Xi Jinping.
The campaign is seen by many as a means to not only restore public confidence in the ruling party, but also to root out threats to Mr Xi’s political dominance.
Jeffrey Bader, a senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution, said of the move: “It’s the sign of the determination of Xi Jinping and the leadership to go after high-level actors in the anti-corruption campaign.”
Ling held a sensitive position but never made it into the party’s most senior echelon. His disgrace followed the fall of two more prominent Chinese political figures – former Politburo member Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, who served on the Politburo’s standing committee until his 2012 retirement.
But unlike them, Ling had no clear evidence of opposing Xi, and the Youth League faction to which Ling belonged has not been politically targeted at the high level, Mr Tsang said.
Ling, formerly head of the party’s general office under Mr Hu, became well known in China in 2012 when his son crashed a Ferrari in Beijing with two nude or half-dressed women, according to various reports.