The official dismissed last week, Lei Zhengfu, 54, the party chief of Chongqing’s Beibei district, is seen on the short video having sex with his 18-year-old mistress. A property developer who wanted to blackmail Lei into granting him lucrative building contracts, it turns out, hired the young woman, according to reports in the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The developer and the woman reportedly were briefly detained after Lei complained to Bo, all well before Bo’s own troubles began.
The episode is the latest example of how average Chinese citizens are increasingly using the Internet — particularly the Twitter-like microblogging sites called weibo — to expose corruption, and the real challenge they are posing to China’s rulers, who must contend with a restive population that has a new tool for organizing and expressing its outrage.
The sex tape was posted by a self-described “independent investigative journalist” named Zhu Ruifeng, founder of an Internet whistleblowing group called People’s Supervision Network.
Zhu said in a brief telephone interview that he has five additional tapes showing senior-level Chongqing officials, some of whom are still in their jobs, engaging in sex with mistresses. He said his source for the videos is a high-level Chongqing police officer.
Zhu said he waited until Nov. 20 to make the first tape public because that was the day Sun Zhengcai, 49, a former culture minister and party boss of Jilin province, began work as Chongqing’s new party chief, the third person to hold the job since March.
Sun replaced Zhang Dejiang, who briefly took over the Chongqing post when Bo was fired but was elevated to the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee at the 18th party congress this month.
“I am actually giving a gift to Sun Zhengcai,” Zhu said. “This is a big gift. A new broom sweeps clean. Let’s put out the first fire.”
The scandal comes just as the excesses of the Bo era in Chongqing are coming before the courts, with victims seeking to have their convictions ruled unfair and overturned.
Bo, once a rising star considered a virtual certainty for a slot on the Politburo Standing Committee, is in prison awaiting trial on various charges, including helping his wife cover up a murder, accepting bribes and having “improper relations” with other women. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, is in prison with a suspended death sentence for the poisoning death of a British businessman, Neil Heywood. And Bo’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, who exposed the murder scandal, is serving a 15-year sentence for his involvement in the crime and his attempt to then defect to the United States.