The so-called "three-man coalition" in the anti-Xi coup, as alleged earlier by Boxun. Left to right: Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua. (CNS, internet photo)
The citizen journalism site Boxun has backed down from its earlier suggestions that Ling Jihua, secretary to the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, was part of an alleged coup attempt planned by the former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and his heavyweight ally Zhou Yongkang.
Various rumors have surrounded Bo since he was controversially ousted from his party posts and placed under investigation for "serious discipline violations," including covering up his wife's alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Many of the rumors have come from Boxun, a US-based citizen journalism website sourced mostly by anonymous users and frequently makes claims that are difficult to prove.
One of Boxun's most explosive allegations in recent months has been that Bo was planning a coup with his ally in the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, to take down Vice President Xi Jinping, the man expected to take over from Hu Jintao as head of the Communist Party and China's president. Several days ago, Boxun also suggested that Ling Jihua, chief of the general office of the CCP's Central Committee and secretary to Hu, was also involved in the plot.
In a turnaround on Monday, Boxun now claims that Ling was never part of a so-called "three-man coalition" with Bo and Zhou. The site's sources allege that Ling was only "partly" roped into the coalition "for some reason" but did not actively participate in the planning of the failed political coup, the existence of which cannot be confirmed. Ling must not have known about Bo and Zhou's plot in advance, the sources added, or else his involvement would have been unearthed long ago by Bo's former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun. Wang has since turned whistleblower against Bo and sparked the scandal that led to his former boss's downfall when he fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February, supposedly carrying evidence of Bo's alleged crimes.
Boxun did not back down, however, from its wholly unproven claim that Zhou helped Ling cover up the death of the latter's son, who was supposedly killed in a car accident on May 18 in Beijing. The crash allegedly occurred while Ling's son was having sex with two young women, and Ling was said to have sought Zhou's assistance in covering up the embarrassing story in exchange for convincing Hu to allow Zhou to remain on the standing committee.
A source has now told Boxun that Ling, who was devastated by his son's death, did not willingly form an agreement with Zhou. Rather, it is said that Ling was "held hostage" because to cover up the scandal involving his son he had no choice but to go through Zhou, the head of China's security forces and law enforcement institutions. The source added that outsiders should not put too much blame on Ling and should leave him in peace to mourn his son's passing.
Yet many have cast doubt on whether Ling's son is even dead, including Want Daily, our Chinese-language sister paper. It has been suggested that the rumors are merely part of a smear campaign to destabilize Ling's chances of being selected for the Politburo Standing Committee at the upcoming 18th National Congress. Ling appears on most shortlists of candidates for the country's Politburo, but whether he will be selected for its standing committee, the nation's highest decision-making body, remains to be seen.
Some political observers in Beijing say it is likely Ling will be shepherded into the standing committee by his mentor Hu to ensure the outgoing president is able to maintain his of influence within the party after stepping down. At just 55 years of age, Ling could potentially remain in the standing committee for the next 10 years.
The strongest argument against Ling is that he has no experience as a local party chief. Boxun claims that the position of party secretary of Beijing is a prime opportunity for Ling to bulk up his resume, but the recent rumors have put his selection for this role in jeopardy.
Ling Jihua 令計畫
Hu Jintao 胡錦濤
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Xi Jinping 習近平
Wang Lijun 王立軍