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Chinese Blogger Becomes Celebrity Exposing Corruption 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.
hackingbear writes "The New York Times reports the story of a Chinese blogger named Zhu Ruifeng who has become an overnight celebrity in China. He posted a secretly recorded video of an 18-year-old woman having sex with a 57-year-old official from the southwestern municipality of Chongqing. The official, along with 10 others, lost their jobs and are now under investigation. Mr. Zhu says ordinary citizens have come to rely on the Internet for retribution, even if it often amounts to mob justice. 'We used to say that when you have a problem, go to the police,' he said. 'Now we say when you have a problem, go to the netizens.' He has become a litmus test of how committed China's new leaders are in their battle against corruption — and whether they can tolerate populist crusaders like Mr. Zhu."
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Chinese Blogger Becomes Celebrity Exposing Corruption

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:08PM (#42816803)

    to the blogger, though... some day (soon if he keeps it up), he'll simply "disappear".....

  • Link (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:11PM (#42816823)

    So where's the link to the video in question?

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:13PM (#42816837) Homepage Journal

    ...he just wanted some porn. Exposing corruption was an accident :-)

  • Stay low (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kcelery (410487) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:18PM (#42816853)

    As a whistle blower, keeping his head low is mandatory in China.

    The guy who reported the milk factory misuse of melamine was murdered.
    Rumor said there was a bounty of 1/2 million RMB on his life.

    http://ntdtv.org/en/news/china/2012-11-23/china-s-toxic-milk-whistleblower-murdered.html

    • Re:Stay low (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Calibax (151875) * on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:14AM (#42817409)

      Almost certainly the guy who posed the video is being used by someone who passed him the tape.

      The real whistle blower is probably a higher level functionary who wanted the tape released to discredit a political enemy and able to protect this guy, for now. How long the poster will continue to be protected is anyone's guess.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Note that NTD is founded by the Falun Gong and biased.

      This South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) report [scmp.com] makes the attack sound more complicated, with his wife being charged, though also with reports that others were present.

      Though obviously that could all be a cover-up, and I don't trust what the cops in China say..

    • Rumor said there was a bounty of 1/2 million RMB on his life.

      So, about US$35.00?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    this guy's got 'em

  • by Calibax (151875) * on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:23PM (#42816879)

    The newly minted Standing Committee of the Politburu (the 9 folks who rule China) have made it clear that corruption is a major issue. However, previous Standing Committees have said the same and even started efforts to tackle it. These efforts haven't lasted long enough to make a small dent in the problem, never mind eradicate it.

    The problem is that all levels of politicians and bureaucrats benefit greatly from corruption. Lower level bureaucrats want to become rich, higher level bureaucrats and they have no reason to rock the boat for themselves or their bureaucratic and political superiors.

    I wonder how long these sorts of grass roots efforts will be tolerated. China has repeatedly shown that they can bury anything on their portion of the internet given sufficient incentive.

    • The newly minted Standing Committee of the Politburu (the 9 folks who rule China) have made it clear that corruption is a major issue. However, previous Standing Committees have said the same and even started efforts to tackle it. These efforts haven't lasted long enough to make a small dent in the problem, never mind eradicate it.

      It's the same old solution. Denounce, deport, change nothing. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      • by hairyfish (1653411) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:38AM (#42817515)
        The last Chinese revolution was only 40 years ago, the one before that was only 60 years ago. "Change nothing" is hardly the right phrase to use when talking about Chinese political history.
        • by cusco (717999)
          On the other hand, the history of corrupt bureaucracy goes back to the Warring States period, to before China was China. I do find it impressive that sufficiently corrupt officials can get the death penalty, perhaps if it were applied more frequently it might make a dent in the problem. Of course our congresscritters might get a little nervous if the idea were to spread internationally.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:28AM (#42817221)

      The newly minted Standing Committee of the Politburu (the 9 folks who rule China) have made it clear that corruption is a major issue.

      When Xi Jinping spoke out about corruption, in the very next breath he emphasized that "stability" was more important. That is understood by Chinese people to mean nothing much will be done. In the previous administration, many people looked at the premier, Wei Jiabao [wikipedia.org], as a champion of integrity, and it was a big shock to a lot of Chinese when the NY Times exposed his billions in overseas accounts. Xi Jinping's response to Wei Jiabao's corruption is not to hold him accountable, but rather to try to block the Chinese people from reading the NY times. The culture of corruption and impunity goes all the way to the top.

      Most "anti-corruption" drives in China are used to scapegoat political enemies, and even execute a few people (kill the chicken to scare the monkey). But there is rarely any reform to the system that made the corruption possible. For instance, when thousands of people died in the Sichuan Earthquake [wikipedia.org] because building inspectors had been bribed, a few people were shot. But the real solution (making building inspection reports into public records freely accessible to anyone with a browser) did not happen.

      • Most "anti-corruption" drives in China are used to scapegoat political enemies

        Probably, but isn't that a form of balance of power? How's that different from two party election system? How do other democracies, like India, Philippine, Mexico, do in this regard? (Hint: they rank even lower than China's in the clean government index.)

        Stability is also important. As much as you and me would like to see the CCP fail, it will be tragic to the 1.6 billion people if civil wars break out, causing massive death and chaos. At this point, the CCP is also too big to fail just like our mega banks.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @03:15AM (#42817889) Journal

          Probably, but isn't that a form of balance of power?

          A form of balance of power? Scape-goating political enemies and having them killed and exiled? The idea of balance of power is to separate the powers so that no group gains so much power that they can destroy their political enemies. It's the opposite of what you think it is.

          How's that different from two party election system?

          In a properly designed system, the party can be out of power without worrying about death or exile. Believe it or not, that's a huge difference.

          For example, Hong Kong was very corrupt back in 1960's; the HK government tried to crack down on corruption but met with resistance and chaos; eventually the HK government had to pardon all corrupted officials and police. Today, HK is one of the cleanest government in the world. The same thing happened in Taiwan and S. Korea.

          You do realize the ex-president of Taiwan is currently in jail for embezzlement, right? Your ability to gather accurate information isn't exactly showing itself today.....

          Like all of our problems in this world, when a problem hits the main street headline day and night, it is near the time of a solution.

          The hope is that eventually China will enter the modern world and have a modern democracy. Unfortunately, there are many problems that are constantly in the main street headline, and still haven't been resolved. I leave to you as an exercise to find some.

          • A form of balance of power can also mean different groups are watching over each other, regardless of motivation. If they can balance each other, that means no groups gain too much power.

            In a properly designed system, the party can be out of power without worrying about death or exile. Believe it or not, that's a huge difference.
            [...]
            You do realize the ex-president of Taiwan is currently in jail for embezzlement, right? Your ability to gather accurate information isn't exactly showing itself today.....

            The party out of power has to worry about going to jail. They would have to worry about death too if death sentence is allowed for corruption, as in China. And this ex-president started his act after Taiwan completed its transformation long time ago. Just like a corrupt official in HK today wouldn't be pardoned anymore. The

            • A form of balance of power can also mean different groups are watching over each other, regardless of motivation. If they can balance each other, that means no groups gain too much power

              Feel free to define things however you want.

              • A form of balance of power can also mean different groups are watching over each other, regardless of motivation. If they can balance each other, that means no groups gain too much power

                Feel free to define things however you want.

                Sun Tzu would have approved of that definition.

              • I stood by my use of the term. The term in American politics simply hijacked the more general sense of term. There are clearly many definitions of "power" -- like "political power". And I said it is "a form of", not the "balance of power in American politics."

                • Stand by whatever term you want. But please explain what definitions you choose to use so you don't sound like an ignorant crank.
          • by readin (838620)
            President Chen's life sentence could be taken as a sign that corruption is being addressed were it not for the overtly politcal nature of the prosecution. Whether or not he is guilty, it appears that the prosecution was as least as much aimed at discrediting the DPP and intimidating its supporters as it was aimed at actual corruption.

            I don't know how S. Korea is doing in terms of corruption, but from what I can see only two cultures in history - Japanese and British/Northern European - have been able to
          • by cusco (717999)
            The hope is that eventually China will enter the modern world and have a modern democracy.

            I find the quasi-religious belief that western-style democracy is the one-size-fits-all solution for every culture in every situation a bit puzzling at times. Mostly when it's espoused by folks who I generally agree with, like yourself. I think that China should be left alone to figure its own solution, one appropriate to its culture and its economy. Maybe that would turn out to be a democracy, but probably not.
            • ok, then let's rephrase that: the government they have now is clearly not a good one, and the hope is they form one that doesn't 'disappear' people and respects things like freedom of speech.
        • You are being very selective regarding South Korea. The big leaps in cleaning of corruption came hand-in-hand with freedom of speech, heavy social unrest and democratization. There was continuous pressure on the government for social change in the form of protests and social disobedience, and numerous senior government officials, including two previous presidents, were eventually rounded up and imprisoned. When the Chinese speak of stability, they speak of resisting the very elements that pressured the R
          • If you truly care about national stability, you would want to see the CCP allow for greater transparency."

            Agree. If recent development in China since the Bo-Wang scandal last year continues, it is an indication they want to go in that direction. Judging from comments and blogs in China now, the level and frequency of public criticism of os much higher than last year. You can read direct attack against the party, the leaders by names, and even call for revolution every day; never see these in plain sign and in abundance before.

            But officially, it will likely to be done gradually and open up the media (head-line n

        • by readin (838620)
          The histories Taiwan and China (including HK) suggest that corruption is heavily dependent on culture, but can be changed by an occupying power.

          If you look at the map at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_corruption [wikipedia.org] you see that there is very little corruption in Japan and in places heavily influenced by English and northern European culture.

          China, on the other hand has a long history of corruption.

          Taiwan was colonized by Japan in 1895. By WWII Taiwan had very little corruption (Japan didn't d
          • There is some culture dependency, but most countries -- including the US regarding civil rights -- cleaned up their acts after their economy had developed and per-capita GDP is high enough. I knew a public school teacher in HK and they get a government granted condo worth probably HKD $10 million; that's why civic servants there don't need to corrupt -- everybody else is paying in the form of high property prices or tax. China tries to go the path of HK and Singapore but there are too many civic servants to

    • by Smauler (915644)

      Corruption, when done well, is almost impossible to detect.

      The thing is, it's so badly done and rife in China that there are lots of examples. This has happened to every society moving to a large scale capitalistic economy... it's a symptom of the system.

      I'm not saying the system is necessarily bad (in my opinion regulated capitalism is the best economic model we have), but when you start capitalism, it's difficult to regulate... and lots of people can gain lots of money and power. This has been seen ti

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:19AM (#42817703)

        Corruption, when done well, is almost impossible to detect.

        Regulation, when done well, is almost impossible to corrupt. If you want to start a business in China, you will have to pay a bribe. I have started several business in the USA, and there is no where in the system for a bribe. The law says that the county clerk must issue the license. They have no discretion. When I lived in Shanghai, I had to pay a bribe so my kids could attend school. The rules are murky and unwritten, so the school staff has huge discretion of who can attend. In America the rules for admission are written down, clear, and publicly available. The system in China is designed to be corruptible, while the American system is designed to prevent it.

        In America, nearly all of my interaction with local, state and federal government is through websites. It is difficult to get an under-the-table bribe through a website. When I have to deal face-to-face, such as at the DMV, it is at a public window in full view of other people. When I have had to deal with government officials in China, they often will lead applicants one at a time into private offices, out of view of the public. The corruption is pervasive and systematic, and their procedures are designed to facilitate it.

         

        • by hackingbear (988354) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @04:11AM (#42818063)

          Agree! No, there is no corruption in the US. There are only political contributions which is perfectly legal. And you only need to pay it when you need to change the law to your flavor. There is no political contribution in China, there is only corruption which could get you executed. That's the differences in the system designs. I actually think China will eventually go the US system -- election + political contributions. Not because it is good, but because it is more stable.

        • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @04:28AM (#42818133) Homepage
          "One of the things I have always found troubling about Westerners doing business in emerging market countries is that they sometimes take an almost perverse pride in discussing payoffs to government officials. It is as though their having paid a bribe is a symbol of their international sophistication and insider knowledge. Yet, countless times when I am told of the bribe, I know the very same thing could almost certainly have been accomplished without a bribe."
          --Dan Harris, chinalawblog.com
          • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:30AM (#42819083)

            "Yet, countless times when I am told of the bribe, I know the very same thing could almost certainly have been accomplished without a bribe."

            Without the context, that sounds like a very poor understanding of 3rd world bribery. There are basically two kinds of bribes -- bribes to get an official to do something illegal like skip a building inspection but sign the paperwork anyway, and bribes to get an official to simply do their job like show up to do that building inspection without waiting a year.

            BOTH types of bribery are common enough in the third world, but the later is practically de rigueur because most government employees are not paid a living wage. It is almost like tipping a waiter.

            • You don't need to pay bribes in China. Anyone who says so is an idiot, or gets a frisson of pleasure from paying so he can be the big sophisticated guy and say, "Yeah, I paid a bribe."
              • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:30PM (#42820987)

                You don't need to pay bribes in China.

                I lived in China for several years. You don't have to pay bribes if you don't want anything from the government. But if you want to send your kids to a public school, and their paternal grandfather didn't live in the district in 1949, then you pay a bribe. If you have a business that requires any kind of license (and they all do), then you either pay a bribe to get the license, or you pay a bribe to the cop on the corner to ignore the fact that you don't have one. A foreigner visiting China will not normally have to pay any bribes, but that is because they don't have the kinds of interactions with the government that require bribes, and also because foreigners are treated differently. Most Chinese people don't consider their country to be corrupt either. They refer to the bribes as "guanxi", or "relationship building", and to them it is so normal that they just accept it as the way it is, and the way it is supposed to be.

        • Regulation, when done well, is almost impossible to corrupt.

          I'm sorry but that statement needs some evidence to support it, as my experience indicates that increasing government regulation always results in increasing corruption.

      • This has happened to every society moving to a large scale capitalistic economy.

        Uhm, moving from what - something that was previously less 'corrupt'? That is your implication, but reality check, China has "moved" from an enormously violent totalitarian Communist state to what it is now - are you really going to say the Chinese government is now "more corrupt" than Chairman Mao's government? The one that openly slaughtered millions? Really?

        Take the United Kingdom, that moved to a "large scale capitalistic

    • Corruption in local officials long predates the Communists.

  • How is a politician having sex corruption? It's hypocrisy if they are the family values party line, and if they are married its cheating but at best I could say he was exposing a scandal not exposing corruption. Now if he was taking bribes, or something that might be corruption.
    • I believe sex with the 18 year old girl was offered as a bribe payment for lucrative contracts. The official caught with his pants down apparently had so much money that monetary payments no longer interested him...
    • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:50PM (#42817025)

      From TFA:

      The compromising images of Lei Zhengfu, the Chongqing official caught having sex with the 18-year-old, have been an anti-graft jackpot for Mr. Zhu: 11 officials have resigned or been fired for their role in what was a honey trap organized by business executives seeking to blackmail powerful bureaucrats to win government contracts. The scheme ultimately failed, but the tapes ended up in the hands of the Chongqing police. After investigators failed to act, Mr. Zhu says, a disgruntled person inside the department sent the evidence his way.

    • by _Ludwig (86077)

      Yeah, the article doesn't really say, although it does call him "memorably unattractive."

      The compromising images of Lei Zhengfu, the Chongqing official caught having sex with the 18-year-old, have been an anti-graft jackpot for Mr. Zhu: 11 officials have resigned or been fired for their role in what was a honey trap organized by business executives seeking to blackmail powerful bureaucrats to win government contracts.

      suggests that the executives plied the officials with young women in putative exchange for

    • by fermion (181285)
      Unlike politicians in the US and many western countries, who are mostly elected to serve but are free to do as they please, politicians in other countries are often seen as 'chosen' to lead the country, like a king or queen. While behavior might be acceptable to a governor, it would not be acceptable for a queen.

      So it does not really matter if the girl was a gift or a bribe, or just someone who wanted a favor, it has to be seen as corruption due to the circumstances and the power of the leaders in China.

      • by Smauler (915644)

        Unlike politicians in the US and many western countries, who are mostly elected to serve but are free to do as they please, politicians in other countries are often seen as 'chosen' to lead the country, like a king or queen. While behavior might be acceptable to a governor, it would not be acceptable for a queen.

        Kings and/or queens don't actually have any real power anywhere in the world. Also, plenty of kings and queens have behaved badly.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Unlike politicians in the US and many western countries, who are mostly elected to serve but are free to do as they please, politicians in other countries are often seen as 'chosen' to lead the country, like a king or queen. While behavior might be acceptable to a governor, it would not be acceptable for a queen.

          Kings and/or queens don't actually have any real power anywhere in the world. Also, plenty of kings and queens have behaved badly.

          Absolute monarchies still exist - look to the Middle East. Even under more limited forms, some monarchs have real-world powers.

        • by cusco (717999)
          The Queen of England is the richest woman on the planet. Somehow I doubt that she's powerless.
    • by c0lo (1497653)
      TFA

      The compromising images of Lei Zhengfu, the Chongqing official caught having sex with the 18-year-old, have been an anti-graft jackpot for Mr. Zhu: 11 officials have resigned or been fired for their role in what was a honey trap organized by business executives seeking to blackmail powerful bureaucrats to win government contracts. The scheme ultimately failed, but the tapes ended up in the hands of the Chongqing police. After investigators failed to act, Mr. Zhu says, a disgruntled person inside the department sent the evidence his way.

  • Guy will be dead within a year
  • Interesting angle on this one! This guy is actually the hero. Amazing! I don't think I could have imagined a scenario by which a man secretly tapes an 18-year-old girl being raped, posts it on the internet without her consent, and is viewed positively by Western society...but here it is! I was thinking the man would be a hate object like when this scenario usually happens, but change the role of the man in the video and he becomes the good guy.
    • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:12AM (#42817149)
      The plot is thicker than the simplistic way you perceived it; the real "heroes" were the business executives attempting a blackmail on bureaucrats (that would be, in a Chinese setup, the hand of free market attempting to cut back on the burden of a leeching government).

      The compromising images of Lei Zhengfu, the Chongqing official caught having sex with the 18-year-old, have been an anti-graft jackpot for Mr. Zhu: 11 officials have resigned or been fired for their role in what was a honey trap organized by business executives seeking to blackmail powerful bureaucrats to win government contracts. The scheme ultimately failed, but the tapes ended up in the hands of the Chongqing police. After investigators failed to act, Mr. Zhu says, a disgruntled person inside the department sent the evidence his way.

      • So, as long as there is an asshole victim, it is OK for a male to post sex tapes of an 18-year-old girl. That's what's so remarkable - remove this one factor and the frame instantly changes to 'creepy perv should be shot'.
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          So, as long as there is an asshole victim, it is OK for a male to post sex tapes of an 18-year-old girl. That's what's so remarkable - remove this one factor and the frame instantly changes to 'creepy perv should be shot'.

          <large-grin> I surmise the 18-year-old girl's performance was work for hire. As such, the only parties that can claim damages would be the business executives which paid for the said performance and became the owners of the copyright on the art work posted on youtube by Zhu.</large-grin>

          (18-year-old girl indeed... were did you get this one and the idea of rape? You really think those business executives arranged for 11 people - the one that resigned or were sacked - to rape a girl for the purpos

          • by cusco (717999)
            Some people consider every act of female prostitution a rape. Dunno if DNS is in that group, but it's a fairly widespread bit of stupidity, along with the belief that sex with anyone who is 17 years and 364 days old is automatically rape. US and British culture is pretty ignorant when it comes to sexual topics.
    • "Raped"? Where does it say she was raped? How do you get modded up with that crap?
  • by decora (1710862) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:34AM (#42817239) Journal

    there are a lot of bloggers who have exposed corruption etc who are in jail or who are under constant police harassment of themselves and their families, with employment blocked and all sorts of other problems that political dissidents have faced since time immemorial.

    until people like Zhao Lianhai can live an ordinary free life in China, this talk of netizens fighting back the government is not convincing - it might simply be a bunch of propaganda and we all might be dupes in some kind of clever bureaucratic infighting inside the Communist Party hierarchy.

    think about it. who leaked the video to him? who protected him from being arrested and sent to a labor camp for a year, like the girl who made a joke tweet a few years ago?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good thing here in the West we let anyone criticize China to their hearts content. Of course, criticize one of the many government's crimes and, if you're lucky, you have to live the rest of your life in an Ecuador embassy.

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:14AM (#42817403)

    ... is a favorite pastime of the larger wrongdoers. Does anyone think that the PRC power structure really cares about some po-dunk municipal pervert?

  • . . . pic or it didn't happen. . .

  • It's - people voice been heard and all that... But I wonder - if the tape is made up by the government to justify taking out somebody... It'd be ironical, how people lynch one in the name of freedom.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know, exposing the secrets of government and helping the enemies of the state at a time of war by making the government look bad.

    Oh, sorry, this is CHINA, and that's fine. Sorry, I thought this was exposing corruption of the US government...

  • If his real name becomes exposed. (which is the current law in China is to use your real name on the internet) Local police are pretty much above the law and federal police not much better. They will not think twice of a "fatal accident" if you cross someone's connection.

    We just went to through a round of this last year with the Bo-Xilai incident. Bo was a potential Chinese presidential candidate. His wife was snuffing out business enemies using local police. The local police chief tried to defect t

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