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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs