In the latter half of 2014, members of the Ling family were successively detained by the authorities (see "Family" section below). Moreover, an unprecedented number of high-ranking officials in Ling's native Shanxi province were investigated for corruption and removed from office. Rumours circulated about Ling's own fate. Ling was officially placed under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (party's anti-graft agency) on December 22, 2014, and dismissed from his position as United Front Work Department head about a week later. The CPPCC then removed him from the office of Vice-Chairman in February 2015, in addition to stripping him of his ordinary CPPCC delegate status.
For Wang, suona music runs in his blood. Yet even with four generations of suona players among his forebears, it took him years of practice to master even the basics on the notoriously difficult instrument. As a child, he spent months playing cymbals in his grandfather’s band to improve his sense of rhythm. Then, from the age of 8, he started learning the sheng mouth organ to perfect his intonation and dropped out of school to focus on music.
Several weeks prior to the announcement of the investigation, Ling continued to make appearances on state television in his positions of CPPCC Vice Chairman and United Front chief. On December 15 Ling had penned an article on the Communist theory publication Qiushi brimming with praise for the signature political philosophies of Xi Jinping such as the "Chinese Dream". This was seen by observers as a 'last-ditch' declaration of fealty to the new Chinese leader with whom Ling was thought to have lost favour.
In December 1995, after serving in CYL for over ten years, Ling was transferred to General Office of the Communist Party of China, and continued his work in political theory. Between 1994 and 1996 Ling obtained an "on-job master's degree" in commercial management at Hunan University. In June 1998, he was promoted to head of research office of the General Office (中央办公厅调研室主任). In December 1999, Ling was appointed as deputy director of General Office. Later, he also served as the deputy chief of the General Office in charge of the Central Institutional Organization Commission, and chief of staff of the Office of General Secretary Hu Jintao.
Ling was one of the highest-profile targets (next to Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou) of the anti-corruption campaign following the 18th Party Congress spearheaded by Party General secretary Xi Jinping and central discipline chief Wang Qishan. He was the second sitting "national leader"-level figure to be investigated by the party's anti-graft agency, after CPPCC Vice-Chairman Su Rong. Chinese-language media have linked Ling to a mysterious political network composed of prominent politicians and businesspeople with origins in Shanxi called the Xishan Society.