A Marxist theoretician has been removed as head of an important, but obscure Communist Party research institute over a sex scandal as China's new leadership moves to end the latest, embarrassing revelation of high-level sleaze.
The removal of Yi Junqing as director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau in Beijing, which was announced Thursday, has been anticipated for weeks since the appearance online of a salacious account supposedly written by a female post-doctoral fellow at the bureau who was a former lover of Yi.
The 210-page document — which was a brief Internet sensation before it was scrubbed off the web — chronicled the illicit relationship between Yi and Chang Yan, from December 2011 to November 2012.
Chang said she bribed Yi with 60,000 yuan ($9,700) and slept with him to get her fellowship turned into a permanent position only to discover he was not going to help and that he 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 and 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 Thursday that Yi was fired for "lifestyle issues" — often a euphemism for corruption and mistresses. Contacted by phone 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 though 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 stamp out corruption and warning that the problem — if unaddressed — could destroy the party.
The scandal is reflective of how deeply embedded corruption is in the corridors of power, even in stuffy think-tanks, and of 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 happens to work for the same bureau. He declined to talk about Yi's case directly, saying he was speaking only in general terms.
The field of Marxism 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 center 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, and he had served as the 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 fall, as reported by state media. "Such theoretical innovation is not scattered but carries the cultural wisdom of a great civilization with comprehensive grasp of advanced Marxist theories."
Now, the case is fueling public indignation.
"The inner belief of Yi Junqing has long been rotten in his bones," said an editorial published 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."
In her lengthy report, Chang detailed the 17 sexual trysts with time, hotel and even room number. It also is full of details such as their birthdays, cell phone numbers they used to contact each other, major meetings at the bureau and their discussions of Chinese politics, including the dramatic fall of politician Bo Xilai.