The New York Times’ Andrew Jacobs profiles anti-corruption blogger Zhu Ruifeng, whose publication of a sex tape last November brought down 11 Chongqing officials and exposed the extortion ring that had ensnared them.
With his five cellphones constantly ringing, it is not easy these days to get the undivided attention of Zhu Ruifeng, a self-styled citizen journalist whose freelance campaign against graft has earned him pop-star acclaim and sent a chill through Chinese officialdom.
[…] A former migrant worker with a high school education, Mr. Zhu has become an overnight celebrity in China in the two months since he posted online secretly recorded video of an 18-year-old woman having sex with a memorably unattractive 57-year-old official from the southwestern municipality of Chongqing. The official lost his job. Mr. Zhu gained a million or so new microblog followers.
The takedown was just the opening act, Mr. Zhu says. He promises to release six more sex videos that he predicts will make a number of other men run for cover. “I’m fighting a war,” he said with characteristic bombast, his voice a near-shriek. “Even if they beat me to death, I won’t give up my sources or the videos.”
[…] Mr. Zhu, who began his Web site in 2006, largely relies on whistle-blowers to funnel damning evidence to him. Through the years, he said, he has exposed 100 officials, bringing down more than a third of them. He has been threatened and beaten; more than once, he says, he has been offered huge sums of money to delete an incriminating post from his site, which is called People’s Supervision.
Zhu’s “characteristic bombast” may seem excessive, but is at least in part a matter of self-defense: by courting attention from traditional and social media, he hopes to deter attempts to silence him. That...
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