Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lei Zhengfu Sex Tape Correction: The Wrong Girl!

The incomparable Roland Soong of EastSouthWestNorth turned his critical eye on the webstorm surrounding the Lei Zhengfu sex tape and posted a notice that the girl depicted in the various pictorial pastiches being circulated (such as the “Lei Zhengfu as Jabba the Hutt” japery I posted on a couple days back) is not the girl in the tape.  She’s a student in Xiamen who has nothing to do with the shenanigans in Chongqing and is understandably miffed at the underserved notoriety she has achieved, apparently at the hands of some blogger in China who chose random pictures of a pretty girl to bookend with Lei’s sluglike visage.

My sincerest apologies.  Here is a link to Roland’s piece.

ESWN also translated and posted the translation of a web posting by a journalist, “Mr. Gui Xi”,  who had first look at the video but  got scooped by Ji Xiguang, allegedly a hyper-aggressive and morally flexible freelancer who ran with the story, spiked it in the endzone, and acquired 300,000 followers on his microblog account while Mr. Gui Xi was left on the sidelines to contemplate the meager rewards of ethical journalism.

A few points of interest here.

Mr. Gui Xi provides no further insight on how the “People’s Supervisory Network”—apparently some kind of whistleblower site—got the tape from somebody inside the Chongqing police apparatus.

But he does paint an interesting picture of how this particular PRC journalist deals with dicy stories that involve government officials.  It involves a careful probing for corroboration, cautious discussions with the editor, and anxious approaches to the local authorities:

In the afternoon of November 20, I began interviewing for confirmation.  I called up Lei Zhengfu.  He said "No such thing" and denied it.  I called up the Chongqing City Communist Party Disciplinary Committee, and they said that they were not aware of any sex videos.  But they have an Internet monitoring department, and if they come across such information, they would initiate an investigation.  They also asked me to provide them with the contact information for the People's Supervisory Network.

That evening, I wrote the report .  But my bosses felt that the case cannot be so simple and that there must be some ulterior motive for leaking the video, so the story was suppressed for a day until more information is obtained the next day.  In retrospect, there was a story behind and the decision not to publish on the first day was correct.
As mentioned before, I had provided the Chongqing City Communist Party Disciplinary Committee with the contact information of the People's Supervisory Network on November 20.  The next day, November 21, I contacted them again.  They said that their Internet monitoring department had seen the Internet post on the evening of November 20, and their leaders have immediately initiated the process to investigate.

I remembered that as soon as I identified myself, the worker on the other side immediately said: "After you spoke to me yesterday, I immediately informed the operations department.  When they saw the Internet post, they immediately informed the leaders.  The leaders took it seriously and immediately initiated the investigation."
Zhu Ruifeng [the source at People’s Supervisory Network] thought that based upon his past experience, it would take at most one week to bring Lei Zhengfu down by releasing the indecent video.

He said that he sought out a reporter to share the material on November 20 out of timing considerations.  The Eighteenth Chinese Communist Party Congress was just over, so there are fewer restraints on public opinion.  On the morning of November 20, Sun Zhengcai was just named as the Chongqing City Communist Party Secretary.  "New officials need accomplishments on the job!"  Once the indecent video gets shown, the principal will become a target.
In retrospect, the Chongqing City Communist Party Disciplinary Party acted even faster than expected, and Lei Zhengfu was dismissed within three days.

Clearly, it's open season on Lei and the new municipal bosses are using his saucy antics to draw a bright line between the bad old days of Bo Xilai and the new, squeaky-clean regime in Chongqing.

Global Times interviewed Zhu Ruifeng, who reiterated that he didn’t want to get involved in any pre-party congress boat-rocking.  But his source, identified as an officer inside the Chongqing public security apparatus, told him:

“The very reason I want to get this in the papers is because of the 18th Party Congress.  It’s possible that all the secretaries of the [Party] discipline committees will be changed and new leadership groups set up.  I have to take down a corrupt official.”

Zhu says his source’s motives are unknown.  Maybe he wanted to ingratiate himself with the new bosses (or become one himself).

According to Zhu, he got the e-mail with the video on November 4 and called up Liu Zhengfu the next day:

“Lei had headed the propaganda bureau in Changshou County and understood the interview process.  He told me, if you want an interview, first send me the materials.” 

After receiving the materials, Lei denounced them as forgeries and stonewalled Zhu.  Zhu (and apparently Ji Xuguang and “Mr. Gui Xi”) subsequently received a call from the owner of a Karaoke TV bar in Beijing who identified himself as Lei’s cousin and, we can presume, tried to manage the problem with some combination of threats and inducements.

While reaching out to Zhu through intermediaries, Lei also set up a special team to try to figure out who leaked the video, without success (must have been an interesting kickoff meeting: “Hey, you know that video of me having sex with that 18 year old girl?...).  

The interesting and complicating element in the story that Wang Lijun, the-disgraced-top-cop-under-disgraced-Chongqing-mayor Bo Xilai had already received the video and investigated Lei a couple years ago; the businessman and the girl were jailed and have already served their time and been released.  According to the article, Lei had approached the municipal leadership and apologized for his error.  

One can assume, therefore, that Lei had already been on the receiving end of whatever censure, discipline, or amused sniggering the party deemed appropriate, the tape was evidence in a closed case whose release was embarrassing and unnecessary, and in 2012 Lei was at liberty to pursue an investigation of whoever had committed the punishable infraction of leaking the infamous video.
However, events overcame him.

On November 20, a citywide cadre meeting was held to effect the personnel changes mandated for Chongqing by the Party center and fine words were spoken by the municipal party secretary concerning integrity in public service.  Zhu characterized this policy statement as a “great gift” that took a load off his mind, and he began approaching media outlets with the tape and the story.  Within 63 or 71 hours, depending on how you count it (and the Chinese blogosphere keeps close track of how long it takes to collect an official scalp), the municipal government’s news office announced that Lei was under investigation.

The rather ironic thing is that Lei was already investigated during the Wang Lijun era and, subsequent to the investigation, had been promoted to the rather important position of municipal district party secretary.  It isn’t clear that the construction company that arranged the woman (and the special spycam in a handbag) successfully bribed or blackmailed Lei.  So far, at least, his crime consists of getting caught on tape horndogging while looking ridiculous (Global Times provided the interesting but seemingly gratuitous testimony that, of the 80 minutes of video, only 36 seconds showed Lei having sex).


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