Blue fur and pearls
Ji has perhaps gone further than any of the spurned mistresses.
She has made dozens of CDs containing photos and videos of her relationship, handing them out at the front gates of Zhongnanhai, central headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party.
The photos, now plastered all over the Internet in China, look like ordinary mementos from a happy relationship. But they also capture the extravagant lifestyle of the ruling elite in a country with rampant income inequality.
For example: Shopping sprees with Ji posing in blue fur and pearls as Fan shows off a receipt for their big purchases. A birthday celebration where he proposed marriage to Ji, who is wearing a gold crown and sequined dress. The couple standing on the bow of a ship with arms outstretched, re-creating the scene from the movie “Titanic.”
Ji said the two met at a restaurant on Ji’s birthday in June 2009, when she turned 22 and Fan was 37. He wasn’t like the men her age, she said. He had manners. When they talked, they seemed to share the same values. Fan told her that he worked in information technology, she said.
From the start, it was obvious he had money. The first time they went shopping, Ji said, the couple went to Prada and paid $10,000 for a skirt, a purse and a scarf. A month after they met, Fan rented an apartment for them that cost $1,500 a month and spent more than $16,000 on bedsheets, home appliances, an Apple desktop and a laptop, according to Ji. Then he bought her a silver Audi A5, priced in the United States at about $40,000, she said.
There were trips to beach resorts in Hainan, a beautiful island off the southern coast of China. On another trip to Prada, Fan spent more than $33,000 on his fiancee and her sister, according to Ji.
“He put cash into my purse every day,” said Ji in a letter to the Communist Party complaining about Fan’s behavior. It was for “daily use, buying clothes and going out for fun.”
Ji said she spent her days cleaning their home, folding her boyfriend’s socks and waiting for him to come home. He was home with her at least five or six nights a week, Ji said. When he didn’t come back at night, he said he was working late and needed to sleep in the office, she said.
A year after they met, Ji found Fan’s work ID card while sorting his clothes. That’s when, she says, she learned that he worked for the central government.
“I didn’t know exactly what his job was,” Ji said. “He told me his position was confidential.”
The source of the money was clear, though: three businessmen who spent time with Ji and Fan and who would sometimes directly route money to Ji’s bank account, she said. It was not clear what the men may have hoped to gain from Fan; Ji said he didn’t discuss work matters with her.
The businessmen, whom Ji identified as Jin Zhong, Chen Guiyang and Ye Zhenbo, could not be reached to comment, although Ji has records of text messages from one of the men since the scandal broke, demanding that she return all the money that was spent.
End of a fairy tale
After the couple had been engaged for more than a year, Ji began pressing her fiance on why they weren’t planning a wedding, she said. In China, it’s traditional for couples to purchase real estate before getting married. Fan resisted buying a home for them, she said.
Finally, at the end of last year, he confessed to having a family, Ji said.
“I felt I was a princess living in a fairy tale. But now, I don’t believe anyone,” said Ji, wearing a simple white top, cropped jeans and a pair of pink and white Crocs. (She says she no longer wants to wear the luxury clothes the couple bought together.)
“Fan Yue’s case is very unique,” said Zhu, the blogger. “Everyone knows the corrupted officials have mistresses, but few of the mistresses will pop up in front of the public.”
Ji, who spoke with fierce determination, said all she wants is for Fan to apologize to her in person — and for her experience to cause the government to crack down harder on corruption.
“People’s awareness is becoming stronger,” she added. “People won’t believe what they’re told as easily. In the era of the Internet, the government cannot hide things from people.”
Zhang Jie contributed to this report.