Ling Jihua, the former top aide to the head of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on March 8, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)Ling Jihua, the former top aide to the head of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on March 8, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The former subordinates of a purged top Chinese Communist Party cadre Ling Jihua continue to be removed from office in what is likely an effort by Party leader Xi Jinping to cleanse the regime of Ling’s remaining influence.

Ling, 59, was formerly the aide to ex-Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao and director of the Party’s General Office. He was arrested in July 2015, and found guilty of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment this July 4.

Recently two of Ling’s deputies were quietly removed from their posts.

Zhao Shengxuan. (cjn.cn)

Zhao Shengxuan, the deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was expelled from office for violating Party discipline, according to a communique in June.

However, a February communique indicated that Zhao, then the most senior of four Academy deputy directors, had resigned. His official biography appeared to have been taken down from the Academy’s website following the announcement of his resignation.

Meanwhile, state mouthpiece Xinhua reported on July 20 that Xia Yong, a deputy director of Legal Affairs Office of the regime’s State Council, was “no longer holding office.” No reason was provided for Xia stepping down, and there wasn’t any announcement of him taking up another job—a development that suggests Xia had been sidelined.

It is unclear whether Xia Yong will at a later date be charged with corruption by the Chinese authorities, but he is currently listed by a U.S.-based nonproft as being involved in one of China’s most brutal persecutions.

Xia Yong. (Xinhua)

In 2005, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) identified Xia as having played an active role in the suppression of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that involves slow exercises and moral teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Feeling threatened by the popularity of the practice—an official survey found 70 million people practicing Falun Gong in 1999—former Party leader Jiang Zemin ordered a persecution campaign on July 20 of that year.

About a week after the persecution was launched, Xia Yong and other scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences denounced Falun Gong using Marxist theories, according to WOIPFG. Xia later became the founding executive director of China Anti-Cult Association, a regime-controlled agency dedicated to spreading anti-Falun Gong propaganda and provided “guidance” on the forced ideological conversion of practitioners in detention centers, labor camps, and brainwashing centers.

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