Corruption in China

Beijing academic sacked after online ‘fiction’ reveals affair

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 7:00pm

A 120,000-word account of a love affair between a Beijing post doctorate fellow and her Marxist tutor sounded like fiction, but was all true.

In her lengthy report, the author, Chang Yan, detailed the 17 sexual trysts she had with Yi Junqing, the renowned Marxist theoretician who has a rank equivalent to a vice minister. She reveals the times, hotels and even room numbers of their liaisons. The report is also full of other details such as their birthdays, mobile phone numbers, work meetings and discussions of Chinese politics – including the fall of Bo Xilai.

Months after she published the “fiction” online, Yi was removed as head of an important, but obscure Communist Party research institute – the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau.

The removal of Yi Junqing as director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau was announced on Thursday. It has been anticipated for weeks since the appearance online of the salacious account.

The 210-page document – which was a brief internet sensation before it was removed – chronicled the relationship between Yi and Chang Yan, from December 2011 until November last year.

Chang said she bribed Yi with 60,000 yuan and slept with him to get her fellowship turned into a permanent position only to discover he was not going to help and had other lovers.

Chang later said the writing was fictional, but Chinese netizens believed it was real. Yang Jinhai, the bureau’s general secretary who appeared in Chang’s narration in his real-life role, confirmed Chang’s stint at the bureau. He said the author had correctly recorded the time and place of academic meetings, but that her interpretation of events was subjective.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday that Yi was sacked for “lifestyle issues” – often a euphemism for corruption and affairs. Contacted by phone on Friday, Yang said that Yi’s removal was related to the online account.

“Yes, his removal should be related to it,” said Yang.

Yang said Chang has returned to Linfen, Shanxi province, for rest, where she was a teacher at a local university. Yang said Yi remains at the bureau although his new assignment is unclear. Neither Yi nor Chang could be reached for comment.

Yi’s fate comes after party leader Xi Jinping came to power in November vowing to stop corruption – warning it could destroy the party.

Many believe the scandal shows how deeply embedded corruption is in the corridors of power, even in stuffy think-tanks, and also the hypocrisy of professed communists.

“Corruption has the ability to spread and infect when it’s unchecked,” said He Zengke, an expert on corruption, who works for the same bureau. He declined to talk about Yi’s case directly, saying he was speaking only in general terms.

The field of Marxist studies has become a business with competition for government funding, he said. “Some people want to seek their own interest in the name of research,” he said.

“It shows the prevalence of corruption,” said Li Manchun, a professor who studies corruption at Central South University in Changsha city. “The Central Compilation and Translation Bureau is deeply trusted and considered reliable by our party.”

Directly under the party’s central leadership, the centre is tasked with providing Marxist theoretical support for party policies. Yi was a delegate to the 18th party congress, which anointed Xi and other leaders in November. He had also served as public champion of the party’s theoretical righteousness.

“We are particularly aware of and confident in greater theoretical innovation of Marxism pushed by the Chinese Community Party,” Yi said, days before the congress last year, as reported by state media. “Such theoretical innovation is not scattered but carries the cultural wisdom of a great civilisation with comprehensive grasp of advanced Marxist theories.”

Now, the case is fuelling public indignation.

“The inner belief of Yi Junqing has long been rotten in his bones,” said an editorial published on Friday in the state-run Qianjiang Evening newspaper. “He looks knowledgeable and sounds Marxist-Leninist, but once dissected, all people can see is thieving and whoring.”

“How come I’ve never heard of this institute?” wrote one Chinese netizen.

“The officials use people’s money to sleep with other people’s wives,” said another on Sina Weibo, China’s twitter-like service.

“This is a truly Marxist sexual behaviour case study,” commented another user.