The new party chief of Chongqing speedily dismissed a senior official involved in a sex-tape scandal, demonstrating the new Chinese leadership's commitment to fighting corruption.
The 54-year-old party secretary of the Beibei district was dismissed on Nov. 23, only 63 hours after he was named on an anti-corruption website with a video allegedly showing him with an 18-year-old woman, both naked in a hotel bed.
The scandal surfaced soon after Sun Zhengcai was sent in as municipal party secretary to rebuild Chongqing, a city that was called the "independent kingdom" of disgraced politician Bo Xilai.
Sun, 49, was promoted to the Central Committee Politburo on Nov. 15, a day after the National Congress closed.
He is considered as a possible candidate to succeed new General Secretary Xi Jinping.
Xi himself cited corruption among party ranks as a primary challenge facing the Communist Party at his first news conference as general secretary on Nov. 15.
Bo's scandal revealed rampant abuse of power and corruption among higher party echelons and their family members, undermining public confidence in the party. It has been called the largest political incident in China since the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.
Chongqing has come to symbolize official corruption, and for Xi, Sun and other party leaders, re-establishing discipline in the city is essential to regaining trust in the party.
China Central Television said the dismissal came as a result of the emphasis that both the Communist Party and the private sector are placing on fighting corruption.
The anti-corruption site is operated by a private-sector organization founded by Zhu Ruifeng.
According to the organization, the video was secretly filmed by the operator of a construction company around 2009.
The operator apparently provided women in their 20s or younger to senior city officials as mistresses and in return received favors in securing construction contracts. It also appears that the operator used videos to extort those officials.
Zhu said the video was provided by an official at the municipal public security bureau before the National Congress. He indicated that the official criticized corruption but might have a different, political motive.
The video was uploaded on the organization's website on Nov. 20 and soon spread through Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging site similar to Twitter, and other means.
Online posters hailed the dismissal, saying Weibo "killed a senior party official in seconds."
The sacked district party chief told a Beijing newspaper that the video was fabricated. But the municipal commission for discipline inspection concluded that he is the man shown in the video.
The leadership under Xi feels it is facing a crisis and that the party's very survival could be at stake if corruption among the senior ranks is left unchecked.
But the video, which brought the corrupt life of senior regional officials to national attention over the Internet, shows that Xi still has a long way to go to reach his anti-corruption goal.
(This article was written by Kentaro Koyama in Guangzhou and Nozomu Hayashi in Beijing.)
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