Threat of Blackmail Hangs Over Chinese Officials
Dan Levin and Amy Chin of The New York Times report that Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts have left a number of government officials prone to extortion schemes:
Now, in addition to looking over their shoulders for antigraft inspectors, civil servants must contend with blackmailers armed with honey traps, video cameras or worse: Photoshop.
Here in Shuangfeng, a rural county in Hunan Province, the authorities have arrested dozens of blackmailers, some of whom have used officials’ actual transgressions to demand payments and some of whom have simply used electronic manipulation to make misdeeds up.
“Being a government official is a really high-risk profession,” said the deputy head of a provincial-level department in the central province of Shaanxi, who asked not to be identified to avoid scrutiny.
Paranoia is a way of life, the official said, and many colleagues live in dread that their faces, appearing in flagrante delicto, will surface online and doom their careers. [Source]
Authorities have attempted to catch those responsible, as Levin and Chin add that police in Hebei province reportedly broke up a ring of fake journalists tasked with threatening officials and executives. Last month, Reuters reported that a court on Chongqing convicted six individuals of extortion for filming sex tapes to blackmail government officials. And this week the trial began for Lei Zhengfu, known as the “sex tape official” after a blogger released a video of him with another woman last year – the incident is believed to be a “honey trap” laid by a local Chongqing businessman who will also face charges.