This new form of public entertainment has also landed in China: the digital political sex scandal. The starring role, as always, goes to a respectably married middle-aged man in an important position. The script includes the usual wealth of spicy details to prolong the pleasure.
Take the hapless Xie Zhiqiang, Director of Jiangsu Provinces Bureau of Health. Someone told him that emails and texting were old hat and that he should get into Twitter-style microblogging. They neglected to mention that his updates would be visible to everyone. Xies communications with his mistress, a married woman, were laid bare for all to see, including the meeting time, hotel room number, and preliminary discussions of what theyd be busy doing. For the delighted readers, it was a carnival. Not only that, but he told his paramour to bring along any receipts she had so he could get them refunded.
The municipal government and the commission for discipline promptly intervened, immediately suspending Xie from his position and putting him under investigation for corruption. Online supporters expressed sympathy for the unfortunate Mr. Xie, convinced he was truly in love with the lady, and just an idiot when it comes to new technology. Some were even inclined to forgive his attempts to claim expenses with his dodgy invoices.
In another case, Liu Ning, a section chief in the local administration of the city of Guangzhou, got in the habit of joining internet chat rooms where participants are naked, but their faces are hidden. As you may guess, in this mans case his face was clearly visible. Embarrassment is painful but rarely fatal.
Then there's the case of Han Feng, director of the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau in Guangxi province, who was using his elevated status to enjoy the favors of no fewer than six women subordinates. However, a disloyal husband should always beware of revenge. Hans private diary mysteriously found its way online, dripping with saucy details. After each encounter with one of his ladies, he wrote a blow-by-blow account what he called his hunting bounty. These appeared on the web, and became a very popular read.
Going back to Director Xies situation, (while much of the West would think right away of recently disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner) the Chinese thought first of the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal. Looking back, we understand that in party politics, a presidents moral flaws will be ruthlessly attacked by the opposition party. The U.S. Congress started impeachment proceedings, and the Republicans were eager to kick Clinton out.
But at a crucial juncture, Hilary Clinton saved her husband by publicly supporting him, so changing the minds of those who had been in favor of his ouster. Clinton kept his job not because Americans accept lax moral standards in their officials. On the contrary, due to the media muckraking in party politics, the public sets a very high moral threshold in selecting officials. And even more important, in the Clinton affair, this philandering president was not guilty of abusing his powers: Lewinski did not get a job in the White House after her internship ended.
By contrast, Xies affair has provided some conclusive evidence that this director-valentine offered to reimburse his lovers invoices for personal purchases. This is corruption. Most people who sympathize with him are basing their reasoning on their presumption that Xie is indeed corrupt, but not to an extreme degree. He was only trying to cheat on a few expense claims. The biggest grief would be that this kind of tolerance becomes the common public attitude.
Read the original article in Chinese.