Developers blackmail officials for construction contracts

Developers filmed Chongqing officials in compromising situations and then blackmailed them to obtain lucrative construction deals in the south-western city

City of Chongqing rocked by fresh allegations of corruption and abuse of power amongst officials.

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Chinese authorities have fired ten officials caught in a blackmail scandal in Chongqing, the former district of disgraced former politician, Bo Xilai, state media have reported.

According to a report by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, construction developers hired women to have sex with the officials, then secretly filmed the meetings and used the videos to blackmail them into signing off on lucrative construction deals in the south-western city.

Xinhua, the state news agency, said that police had broken up the criminal ring responsible for the blackmail, however China’s foreign ministry has refused to comment on the matter, the paper said. The scandal is the latest in a string of allegations over corruption and abuse of power in the city.

The case first hit the headlines in November 2012, when clips of a 54-year old district party chief with an 18 year old woman went viral. Lei Zhengfu was sacked within 63 hours of the video’s appearance and now ten more of his colleagues in the city have been ousted, Xinhua said.

Former politician, Bo Xilai has been implicated in a number of scandals, including the cover up of his wife’s murder of British businessman, Neil Heywood.

China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has vowed to clean up the country’s corruption problems, and has repeatedly claimed to be ready to tackle official misbehaviour at all levels. Experts have said that the swift action in the blackmail cases is a result of this determination to clean up the system.

Liu Shanying, a politics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Guardian that the blackmail cases hinted at the widespread nature of official misbehaviour.

“The incident in Chongqing is not accidental or exceptional. It should be said that it is rather common and that the problem is with corrupted lifestyles,” he said. “Many local officials have lower moral standards than ordinary people, and the power they enjoy makes it easier for them to do immoral things.”


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