China’s netizens have a new favorite pastime: the “human flesh search,” in which microbloggers band together to unearth, research, and publicize evidence of apparent misconduct by officials.
In September, work safety official Yang Dacai became one of the searchers’ most famous trophies when he was fired and placed under investigation based on viral photos showing him grinning at the site of a deadly highway crash, and wearing as many as 11 pricey watches.
A similar fate may await Lanzhou City (Gansu Province) mayor Yuan Zhanting, who was just last week identified sporting five luxury watches, the most expensive of which reportedly cost more than $32,000.
After provincial officials stepped in to defend Yuan, denying his watches were worth as much as netizens claimed, blogger “Zhou Lubao” vowed to take the case directly to Beijing.
An even hotter topic than top-brand timepieces has been a spate of sex scandals complete with photo evidence of officials frolicking with mistresses.
In one of the latest scandals, microblog reports alleged Wusu City (Xinjiang autonomous region) police chief Qi Fang gave jobs on the police force to two sisters he was sleeping with.
City officials said the sisters’ skills in arts and performance made them an asset to the bureau’s official events.
This rationale apparently failed to sway local disciplinary authorities, who suspended Qi from duty and launched an investigation into the matter.
Qi told the media he never slept with the sisters.
Authorities in the Peiling district of Chongqing announced they were investigating Wu Hong, a district-level Chongqing administrative official, after images of Wu in a hotel room with a half-naked woman made their way online.
Source: Sanxiang Metropolis Daily (三湘都市报)
Benjamin Kessler is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog and managing editor of its membership area.