Bid to hush up car crash hurt Hu in CCP


In June, "Thank you. I'm well. Don't worry," read a post on a Chinese social networking site. The comment appeared to come from Ling Gu, the 23-year-old son of Ling Jihua — a high-powered aide to China's President — and quashed reports that he had been killed in a Ferrari crash after a party.

It only later emerged that the message was posted by someone under Ling's alias — almost three months after his death.

The ploy was an effort to suppress news of the crash that killed Ling Gu and one of the two young female passengers in the car. It is now becoming clearer that the crash and the botched cover-up had altered the course of the Chinese Communist Party's once-in-a-decade leadership succession last month.

Departing President Hu Jintao had entered a strong position after the disgrace of Bo Xilai. But Hu suffered a debilitating reversal when party elders led by his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, confronted him with allegations that Jihua, his closest protégé, had engineered the cover-up of his son's death.

Current and former officials, party elites said the exposure helped tip the balance of difficult negotiations, hastening Hu's decline; spurring the ascent of China's new leader, Xi Jinping; and playing into the hands of Jiang, whose associates dominate the new seven-man leadership.

Last month, Jihua failed to advance to the 25-person Politburo. Hu stepped down as party chief and immediately yielded his post as chairman of the military, meaning he will not retain power as Jiang did.

Party insiders provided information regarding the episode. Officials have investigated the aftermath of the car wreck including, accusations that a state oil company paid hush money to the families of the two women, they said.

On March 18, Ling Gu was killed instantly in the Ferrari crash and the two young Tibetan women with him were hospitalised with severe injuries. One died later, party insiders said.

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