A Chinese government official is facing accusations of supporting a mistress with extravagant spending beyond his modest salary, in the latest sex scandal to hit the ruling Communist Party.
The scandal erupted Friday, when a 25-year-old female presenter for Chinese state television announced on her blog that she had a four-year affair with the deputy director of China's state archives, Fan Yue.
The presenter, Ji Yingnan, granted an exclusive television interview to VOA in Beijing Tuesday, claiming that Fan spent around $1.5 million on her during the relationship. She said Fan bought her jewelry, cars and other luxury items that a civil servant at his level typically would not be able to afford.
Prominent Chinese anti-corruption activist Zhu Ruifeng said Ji reached out to him recently to seek his help in exposing the affair. Speaking to VOA in Beijing, Zhu said he contacted Fan by phone to verify the woman's claims.
The activist said Fan acknowledged the affair and admitted spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on his mistress.
There was no immediate public comment from the state archives official about the scandal.
The former anchorwoman for the China Travel and Economic Channel revealed her affair with Fan by posting videos and photos of their four-year relationship on her blog. She provided many of the same images to Zhu, who published them on his own blog Friday.
Zhu said his post about the scandal attracted tens of thousands of views in the first half-hour before state Internet censors apparently blocked access to it. Ji’s blog also was shut down Friday, shortly after she posted the images.
Zhu accused the Chinese government of trying to cover up the scandal, and defiantly vowed to publish a new image of the affair “every day.” He previously exposed a sex scandal involving a lower-ranked municipal level Communist official in the southwestern city of Chongqing last November.
Ji said she wants an apology from Fan for allegedly failing to tell her that he has a wife and son. She said she decided to take her story to foreign media after complaining about the official to Chinese authorities and receiving no response.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua briefly reported the scandal on its microblog Monday before the post was removed. The Xinhua post quoted Fan's supervisor as saying the archives official resigned due to unspecified "problems."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised tougher action on corruption since taking office earlier this year. His government has been running a campaign to punish officials who use taxpayer funds to engage in the kind of lavish and extravagant behavior that triggers public disgust.
The Chinese government has said it welcomes the support of citizen activists in highlighting cases of official corruption. But a recent editorial by the state-run People's Daily newspaper warned against relying on whistle-blowing mistresses to expose such wrongdoing.
In the article published last month, the newspaper said some mistresses seek "bribes or ... huge illegal profits" when disclosing affairs, proving that they are motivated by the same "greed" as the philandering officials.
(Lipin reported from Washington and Wang from Beijing.)