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Beijing (AFP) Nov 15, 2012
A close ally of Chinese President Hu Jintao who was tarnished by a scandal over his son's death in a Ferrari crash was passed over for promotion in the new Communist Party leadership revealed Thursday.
Ling Jihua, whose son's death added to public perceptions of corrupt and high-living officials, failed to rise up to the 25-member Politburo in the party reshuffle.
Ling is considered a close associate of Hu and had been viewed as a potential candidate for promotion to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party.
The committee is China's most powerful governing body and a new line-up was announced with Xi Jinping at the helm, putting Xi in charge of the party and on track to be named president of China next March.
In September, Ling was removed from a key party post and given a less high-profile position, state media reported at the time without any explanation.
A day later, however, the Hong Kong-based South Morning China Post, quoting unnamed sources, said Ling's son had died in a high-speed Ferrari crash in Beijing in March 18 that also left two women passengers hurt, one of whom was naked.
Reports of the crash first surfaced in March on China's popular Twitter-like microblogs, along with speculation that the son of a senior Communist leader had been involved, but were quickly suppressed by the country's army of online censors.
Photographs of the wreckage were briefly circulated online, sparking questions about how the son of a government official could afford a luxury sports car worth a reported five million yuan (around $800,000).
China's ruling party has expressed increasing alarm about mounting reports of official corruption.
Xi warned in a speech after he was named as party chief Thursday that the party faces "severe challenges ... particularly corruption".
Ling, however, kept his post in the party's 205-member central committee but failed to rise to the the next level -- the 25-person Politburo.
The South China Morning Post reported that 94 out of 2,300 delegates at the week-long party congress that ended on Wednesday voted against Ling's re-election.
The largely rubber-stamp body was allowed to select from 224 candidates for 205 spots, the Xinhua state news agency said.
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