Former Chinese presidential aide arrested

BEIJING - Chinese authorities have arrested a former presidential aide in a corruption investigation after expelling him from the ruling Communist Party, the government announced Monday.

Ling Jihua, 58, who worked for former President Hu Jintao, stands accused of accepting huge bribes, stealing party and state secrets, as well as keeping mistresses and trading power for sex, according to a statement posted on the website of the party's disciplinary arm.

From 2007 to 2012, Ling was the director of the Party's Central Committee's General Office under Hu -- a position often compared to the White House chief of staff -- making him an extremely powerful politician in China's one party-dominated political system.

Ling is the latest of a string of former Communist leaders caught in the anti-corruption dragnet launched by Xi Jinping, the current president and head of the Communist Party, after he came to power in late 2012.

Xi has vowed to eradicate official corruption, long a lightning rod for the Chinese public's discontent with the government.

With a stated goal of targeting both "tigers and flies" -- high- and low-ranking officials -- Xi's massive campaign has led to thousands of arrests and convictions on graft charges, including the former domestic security czar and the military's second-in-command.

"Xi needs to reassert central control over the party, which seems to have slipped under his predecessor Hu Jintao," Andrew Wedeman, the director of China Studies Initiative at Georgia State University, told CNN.

"It isn't a political witch hunt in the crude sense of that notion, but certainly it's a highly political campaign."

Throughout the Hu years, Ling was seen accompanying the Chinese president on trips home and abroad, and became known as one of his most trusted advisers.

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