Orgy Photos Making Awkward Waves on Web

A series of more than a hundred leaked online photos featuring five people engaged in group sex has put the Communist Party on the defensive, writes The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, who puts the awkward situation in perspective:
It’s tough to spin an orgy. The local Party office in question first claimed that the images had been photoshopped; then they dropped that angle and said they were, instead, simply old pictures from elsewhere in China, unrelated to the county. But that explanation ran aground when one of the men—identified in state press reporters as Wang Yu, a deputy secretary of the Youth League Committee of Hefei University in Anhui province—while insisting that “the two other men are his friends, not government officials, conceded that “he regretted his behavior.” (The photos, it seems, were plucked from the computer of one of the participants after the machine was brought in for repair.) Another Party organ was not as contrite. “NAKED GUY IS NOT OUR PARTY CHIEF: LOCAL AUTHORITY” was the headline in the Global Times after the Communist Party committee in Lujiang county declared a case of mistaken identity in response to the suggestion that a bespectacled participant bears an extraordinary resemblance to Wang Minsheng, the local Party secretary. Wang said he had been “slandered” most likely because he was investigating others for corruption, and his office vowed that revenge: “Those behind the smear campaign will be held legally responsible.”
At bottom, the sex party is vexing for the Party because it highlights the gap between the artifice of official solemnity and the unadorned reality beneath, a gap that has become more pronounced in recent years as the Web eats away at the monopoly on authority. The downfall of Bo Xilai is of interest to the Chinese public not simply because it

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