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Sex tape seductress is no public heroine

2013-02-06 09:12 Global Times     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment
Illustration: Liu Rui

Illustration: Liu Rui

Zhao Hongxia, the woman in the Chongqing sex tape scandal, was reportedly arrested for extortion by the Chongqing police.

Online opinion about this has been mixed. Some see her as an anti-corruption heroine, and a few even hold that she is not only innocent, but worthy of praise.

Although most of this is just joking, we have to be careful in case such views mislead public opinion.

Common sense tells us that anti-corruption heroes have good motives. They collect and arrange materials on corruption, expose and report involved figures through the judicial process, and fight against corrupt officials.

However, Zhao was persuaded or coerced by her boss, Xiao Ye, into secretly filming herself having sex with several Chongqing officials, so that Xiao's construction company could blackmail them and win projects.

Even after she made the tapes, she was never a whistle-blower. She did not report to police or disciplinary inspection department for anti-corruption.

It is clear to everyone that Zhao's fundamental goal is not to combat corruption; on the contrary, she is only a participant and cat's-paw in the chain of extortion.

In the process of online anti-corruption, Zhao did not play a pivotal role either.

In previous online anti-corruption incidents, some whistle-blowers reported corrupt officials under their real names, and others leaked the story to the media anonymously.

With complicated backgrounds, these insiders all played an active role in the exposure of corruption cases and in the process of tackling them.

Some of them acted out of dubious motivations, and others acted in ways that were sometimes unsavory, but still they have reason to be called "anti-corruption heroes." But Zhao hardly deserves this crown.

After the sex tape scandal came to light, the Chongqing police responded quickly and effectively, but netizens heaped praise on Zhao. We need to think over why this happened.

The scandal, which has resulted in the dismissal of 11 officials so far, has caused a great sensation.

In the matter of official corruption, public opinion holds that since the start of the reform and opening-up, the continuing corruption and bribery, including sexual favors, shows the under-developed nature of anti-corruption measures in China.

Although China has been increasing anti-corruption efforts in recent years, this existing problem cannot be solved immediately.

Many are expecting that more corrupt officials will be uncovered as soon as possible, and incidents like the sex tape scandal play into this belief. They tend to beautify Zhao wishfully, rather than analyze the facts objectively.

Because Zhao participated in the extortion, it is a conceptual mistake to call her an anti-corruption heroine. We should neither play up her role, nor excessively play down the role of those sacked officials. After all, once people get drawn into this kind of affair, it never ends well.

Lately, online anti-corruption has played an eye-catching role in anti-corruption campaign. New media has exerted influence in almost every major case.

Many people are discussing how to make online anti-corruption efforts more systematic. This is an anticipated change.

However, online expression must be normalized before the change happens. When the value of Zhao Hongxia is magnified without the rule of law and sense, and facts are ignored, will public opinion on online anti-corruption be reversed? To elevate Zhao's significance will only allow the unscrupulous businessman, who acted as a pimp, to escape social condemnation.

To prevent online anti-corruption missing the point, we must focus on the judgment on facts and the concept of rule of law.

We hope to see online anti-corruption bring positive changes to China's anti-corruption campaign, instead of misleading judgments.

The author is an associate professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law.

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