In the early days of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s drive to clean up the Communist Party’s image, disciplinary authorities benefited from the work of a group of accusers with particularly intimate knowledge of corrupt bureaucrats’ nefarious activities: their extramarital lovers.
A district party chief in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, a police chief in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and the former deputy head of China’s top economic planning body all were removed from office thanks in part to their illicit sexual activities.
The string of scandals has fed enthusiastic discussion online of the efficacy of ernai fanfu, or “mistress-driven anticorruption,” but there has never been hard data to back up the breathless praise of jilted lovers as a weapon against official graft in China.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday that mistresses served as accusers in 15% of corruption cases recently exposed online.
The Xinhua report was based on a study conducted by the Center for Public Opinion Monitoring at the government-backed Legal Daily newspaper and was based on an analysis of 26 allegations of corruption made online between January and September. The study found that merchants made up the biggest share of accusers at nearly 27%. Others included businessmen, journalists, other officials and ordinary Internet users. The study didn’t say how many of the allegations were proven to be true.
Most of the cases examined were exposed through popular social media, like Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging platform, according to Xinhua. In every case, the tipsters used their real names.
The notion of using mistresses to expose corrupt officials is not new, but researchers say the advent of social media has given it new currency. The government has been of two minds about the phenomenon, acknowledging its efficacy in some cases while also expressing reservations about relying on informants whose motives aren’t always noble.
One of the most notable cases, cited in the Legal Daily study, was that of Liu Tienan, the former deputy director of the National Reform and Development Commission who was removed from office in May for “serious discipline violations” after his mistress ran to a journalist with stories of fraud. The journalist, Caijing magazine editor Luo Changping, subsequently aired the allegations on Sina Weibo (in Chinese).
Mr. Liu has been unavailable to comment on the allegations.
An editorial published in the Communist Party flagship newspaper People’s Daily shortly after Mr. Liu’s ouster argued that China should be wary of relying on such sources in its effort to identify dirty officials.
“Even though, for a variety of reasons, mistresses will turn around and report corrupt officials, both basically have the same motive, which is to satisfy each other’s greed,” the editorial warned (in Chinese).
Exposing corruption can also be risky business: According to the Legal Daily study, 23% of informants who used their real names were later either detained or listed as wanted by police on suspicion of spreading rumors or causing trouble.Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ – Josh Chin – “New Report Says 15% of Corruption Accusations Against China’s Officials Are Made by Mistresses”
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- China mistresses take public revenge (and it’s a good thing) (fcpablog.com)
- Crooked Officials and Sex Scandals Top List of Online Chinese Complaints (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- China’s Most Effective Whistleblowers? Mistresses (theatlantic.com)
- How China’s scorned mistresses avenge corrupt lovers (bbc.co.uk)
- Crooked Officials and Sex Scandals Top List of Online Chinese Complaints (world.time.com)
- Why a graveyard owner in China is turning its cemeteries into a public company (qz.com)
- Chinese Officials Suffer the Revenge of Scorned Mistresses (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- China’s ‘Most Dangerous Woman’ Knows Which Way the Wind Blows (theepochtimes.com)
- China: Revenge of the mistresses (themoderatevoice.com)