News / Asia

China Offers Protection, Support to Netizen Who Exposed Sex Scandal

Lei Zhengfu was fired after a tape showing him having sex with an 18-year old mistress was circulated online.
Lei Zhengfu was fired after a tape showing him having sex with an 18-year old mistress was circulated online.
A Chinese Internet activist says Beijing police have offered to protect him after he revealed a sex scandal involving a Communist party official in the central city of Chongqing.

Zhu Ruifeng broke the scandal on his website November 20, uploading images that he said were from a 2007 video of a Chongqing district party chief having sex with an 18-year-old mistress.

The images went viral on Chinese social media sites, prompting authorities to investigate. They quickly confirmed the authenticity of the video and fired the official, Lei Zhengfu, on Friday.

Chongqing: Facing More Scandal

Speaking to VOA Tuesday, Zhu said he has videos incriminating other Chongqing officials and needs time to verify the images before making them public. He also said he believes Chongqing authorities have been monitoring his phone in recent days, and he accused them of intimidation.

Beijing-based Zhu said a police officer in the Chinese capital called him to express concern for his safety and to offer security guarantees. "Officials of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, as well as leaders from (Beijing's) Xicheng district branch are paying attention to this situation," he said.

In an editorial published Tuesday, the state-run China Daily newspaper welcomed what it called the "prowess" of Zhu and other activists who use the Internet as a "tool against abusive officials."

Government Praises Activism

The paper said rumors about Lei's "philandering and corruption" had circulated locally for years, but Chinese authorities did not launch an investigation until the sex tape was posted online.

It said Lei's case shows the effectiveness of social media in triggering government action, and it urged anti-corruption leaders to "embrace" Internet activists as a "close ally."

China's main anti-corruption agency issued a statement Monday saying it recognizes a need for authorities to "seriously address" corruption problems "reported by the masses."

Chongqing's anti-corruption body said Monday its investigation of Lei Zhengfu is continuing, and it pledged to release the results to the public. It also said Lei's rapid dismissal met with "overwhelming support" from Chinese Internet users.

Critics: Beijing Fails to Lead

Other Chinese bloggers were not impressed. In an article published Tuesday on activist website Global Voices, Hong Kong-based media activist Oiwan Lam said some Internet users complained that the government is failing to take the lead in fighting corruption.

U.S. digital rights advocate Eva Galperin said Beijing's praise of Zhu Ruifeng also does not represent an easing of government restrictions on social media sites such as Weibo and Renren.

"For the central government, Internet activism ... that singles out a few 'bad apples' [corrupt officials] is fine, but political and social red lines remain," said Galperin, an international freedom of expression coordinator at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.  "Allowing [such] activism does not mean, for example, that Tibetan activists will see any increased tolerance."

Exposing 'Bad Apples'

Chinese state media have credited Internet users with exposing two other recent corruption cases.

In September, bloggers posted photos of Shaanxi provincial official Yang Dacai wearing luxury watches beyond the reach of his salary, leading authorities to fire him.

In October, Internet users revealed that Guangdong provincial official Cai Bin owned dozens of homes, resulting in another investigation.

Galperin said Chinese authorities do not appear to respond in the same way to all scandals that surface online.

"With the Internet as heavily filtered and censored as it is in China, it is hard to know for certain how many scandals are being suppressed for every one that is being responded to," she said.

Yibing Feng of VOA's Mandarin Service contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid