From August 1983, Ling studied at the Communist Youth League Academy (later China Youth University of Political Studies), majoring in political education. In July 1985, Ling worked in the political theory section of the propaganda department of the Communist Youth League. At that time, Hu Jintao was the First Secretary (i.e., leader), of the Youth League, though it is not clear whether there was direct contact between Ling and Hu. From June 1988, Ling served in various posts in CYL, mostly as part of the CYL Secretariat and the CYL General Office. He also served as editor-in-chief of Chinese Communist Youth League, the primary theory publication of the CYL, and between 1994 and 1995, and the CYL's chief of propaganda.
Yet some young villagers share the government’s objections to suona funeral performances. To 27-year-old Dong Chengcheng, the funeral reforms are a positive step toward easing the burden on younger generations. “Although the price for booking a suona band is not such a big deal, it still costs money,” he explains. With each funeral typically requiring three days of ceremonies and banquets, the expenses add up — especially as family planning policies have left today’s young people with fewer siblings to share the costs.
Ling had three brothers and one sister. His eldest brother, Ling Fangzhen (令方针), was in the military, and died after a fall while cleaning windows in 1977. Ling's second eldest brother, Ling Zhengce, was a provincial-level politician in Shanxi Province. Zhengce was placed under investigation by the Communist Party's anti-graft agency in June 2014. His sister, Linghu Luxian (令狐路线), was a hospital executive in the city of Yuncheng, and was married to the city's Vice-Mayor Wang Jiankang (王健康); the couple disappeared from public view for several months in 2014, suspected of being placed under investigation, but re-appeared later on. Ling's younger brother Ling Wancheng was a businessman and golf enthusiast, who was initially reported to be detained by the authorities, but later found to have fled to the United States.
As a teenager in the 1980s, Wang would play several gigs a day with his grandfather’s band. Everywhere they performed, they were served tea and tobacco and treated as honored guests. But after the arrival of the new millennium, the popularity of suona music declined. The market for musicians shrank as newlyweds turned to new trends: Western rock bands, pop singers, folk operas. The suona became passé, even maudlin. “Once the suona sounded, people would think someone must have passed away,” Wang explains.
The most successful band in Pingyi County is headed by 29-year-old Liu Ji. In jeans and a tight white T-shirt, with a gleaming stud in his ear, Liu looks the perfect antithesis of Wang, the traditionalist in gray trousers and a loose white shirt. Yet Liu, too, learned to play the suona with a reed and a water basin, he says, practicing through hot summer days until the sweat from his feet soaked prints into the ground. He, too, inherited his band from his family, but he added young acrobats, dancers, singers, and Western instruments.
Ling is married to Gu Liping (谷丽萍), the former director-general of Youth Business China a non-profit program that aims to promote youth entrepreneurship that is headquartered in Beijing. In 2010 she was deputy director of the Ying Public Interest Foundation, a charity sponsored by the Communist Youth League. In that role she reportedly solicited donations for the foundation. Gu was thought to be placed in custody prior to the initiation of the investigation on Ling Jihua.
Jiaozuo is noted for its blast furnaces and machine construction industries. The total GDP of the city in 2017 was 234.28 billion yuan, an increase of 7.4% over the previous year. Among them, the added value of the primary industry was 13.733 billion yuan, up 4.6%; the added value of the secondary industry was 13.841 billion yuan, up 6.7%; the added value of the tertiary industry was 81.143 billion yuan, up 9.1%. The per capita GDP reached 65,936 yuan. The three industrial structures changed from 6.4:59.3:34.3 of 2016 to 5.9:59.5:34.6.link