A senior Chinese official has lost his job, state media said on Thursday, after a jilted lover detailed their alleged affair in an online essay topping 100,000 written characters.
The downfall of Yi Junqing, who had a rank equivalent to vice minister, comes as the ruling Communist Party’s new leaders have declared war on corruption and state media has exposed a raft of sex and other scandals.
Yi, who headed the party’s compilation and translation bureau and allegedly had an affair with a researcher, “has been removed from his post for ‘improper lifestyle'”, the Xinhua news agency said, citing unidentified authorities.
Unlike in other cases, Xinhua did not provide details of the impropriety.
The account by the alleged mistress Chang Yan could be seen on overseas websites but had been deleted from Chinese sites. An apology signed by her was posted instead on domestic websites.
“In my spare time I put together a work of fiction,” the apology read.
“I suffered serious depression… and regularly sank into a state of delusion and even fantasy,” it continued, citing severe work pressure.
In her account describing the affair, Chang claimed that Yi had transferred 100,000 yuan ($16,000) into her bank account and that they split after he took up with other co-workers.
Chang also recounted their text-message and other conversations, ranging from chats about politics to an emotional exchange in which Yi said he was moved to tears by her profession of love for him.
Since taking charge last November, China’s leaders for the next decade have stressed that corruption is a scourge, with party chief Xi Jinping saying it could “kill the party and the country”.
In the new lineup Wang Qishan, a leading economic planner and trade negotiator, became the top official tasked with fighting graft.
But analysts say top-to-bottom reform remains a distant prospect. While corruption among low-ranking officials is sometimes exposed by ordinary Chinese through social media, online discussion of senior leaders is routinely censored.
Foreign media reports last year about the huge wealth amassed by some top families were deleted and the websites of those outlets blocked inside China.
At the same time a motley parade of lower-level officials has been shamed in domestic media, including one who allegedly kept twins as mistresses and another who was sacked after a sex video with his mistress spread online.
Several higher-ranking figures have come under investigation, including the vice party chief of the southwestern province of Sichuan and a former deputy mayor of the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong.
A web page run by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, hailed their fall as “the start of an anti-corruption storm”.
But the breadth and depth of the campaign are still unclear, even as graft threatens the ruling party’s claim to legitimacy.
A Pew Research Center survey late last year found that 50 percent of Chinese considered official corruption a very major problem.