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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid