A rural county in Hunan has declared a “people’s war” on photo-shopped sex photos - which have frequently been used to humiliate and blackmail local businessmen and bureaucrats.
Banners with slogans such as: “resolutely fight extortion with of photo-shopped obscene pictures, create a positive image for Shuangfeng County” are being spread throughout the county. They are calling for a "people's war" against blackmailers, according to photos circulating on Weibo.
The local government in Lufeng village had a truck tour of the village with loudspeakers and banners saying: "Hard work leads to riches and honour, extortion is shameful!"
Since last year, Shuangfeng county handled at least 127 cases of blackmail with forged and incriminating photos. They arrested 37 people, the Beijing News said. The county has a long tradition of photoshop craftsmanship, the Beijing-based daily noted. A decade ago, Shuangfeng was known as “the hometown of fake identity cards.”
"Many people in Shuangfeng are making money this way," a resident told Hunan Television. "Blackmail is just a quick and easy way to make money."
The crackdown started on February 19, when the head of the local Public Security Office lectured subordinate officials about its “thorough battle” against forged sex photos.
Local police say they have arrested eight suspects who made 45 million yuan (HK$ 56 million) from blackmailing local officials and businessmen. On March 21, police issued names of further suspects calling on them to come forward before the end of the month.
In recent years, leaked sex videos have spread rapidly due to social media. They have helped cause the downfall of numerous bureaucrats following public outrage about lax moral standards.
Last November, a leaked sex video showing Chongqing city official Lei Zhengfu with an 18-year old mistress Zhao Hongxia went viral. The mistress later said she been paid by a contractor to the city government to blackmail Lei into passing on projects to this company. The middle-aged official immediately became the object of nationwide ridicule. He has since been sacked and investigated for corruption.
In February, Xuan Xiajin, a local official in Zhejiang, was arrested for corruption after he paid 100,000 yuan to a blackmailer for a photo-shopped incriminating picture. When the blackmailer asked for money, Xuan called police, who eventually arrested the municipal education bureau's head of corruption.
A research project by Beijing's Renmin University in January showed a correlation between extramarital affairs and corruption in China. It found that 95 per cent of disgraced officials investigated for corruption in 2012 had mistresses.
The Shuangfeng photos have inspired cartoons and led netizens to ridicule the county for its local photo-shopped "delicacies". "What are you afraid of, if you have nothing to hide?," one person commented.