Corruption scandals in China have long been packaged with sexual indiscretion. For almost every fallen official there are tales of paramours, sometimes too numerous to seem plausible. Liu Zhijun, the former Railway Minister who is awaiting trial on corruption allegations, was reported to have had 18 mistresses. Shanghai Communist Party secretary Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2008 for accepting massive bribes, was accused by the party leadership of being a morally decadent philanderer who traded “power for sexual favors.” When Bo Xilai, the purged former leader of the southwestern city of Chongqing, was ejected from the Communist Party in September, the allegation that he had “improper relationships” with several women was the least shocking development after months of revelations about corruption, murder and abuse of power.
So when a municipal official in Chongqing was caught up in a sex-and-corruption scandal last week, the only surprise was the order of the revelations — first the sex, then the corruption — and the level of detail. Lei Zhengfu, the Communist Party secretary of Chongqing’s Beibei district, was removed from his office on Friday pending an official investigation, but not before he became widely known in China as the balding, bug-eyed, body-built-by-banquets star of a sex tape that circulated widely online last week. The 36-second video is unforgettable in the worst sense of the word. Even casual users of social media in China were subjected to repeated appearances of the naked Lei with a then 18-year-old mistress.