BEIJING - China's anti-corruption campaign is finding an embarrassing development in the role of mistresses as a raft of officials who trade power for -- money or sex -- have become newsmakers after their affairs were exposed.
Last week, Yi Junqing, director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, was removed from his post for an "improper life style."
It is believed that his downfall was related to an online essay by his alleged mistress, Chang Yan. The woman detailed their alleged affair in a 100,000-character article, making Yi the highest-ranking official sacked for nothing more than a sex scandal.
The essay shows the married woman threw herself at Yi for the sake of her career and gradually fell in love with him. However, she was disappointed that Yi failed to meet her career expectations and had affairs with other women.
China is a nation that values officials' virtues. "Proper life style," a euphemism that means one is not tarnished by an affair, is a basic qualification in the selection of government officials at all levels.
Ethical failings, it is thought, leave officials susceptible to blackmail and other devious deals, as evidenced by the recently exposed scandal over vices including sex.
Lei Zhengfu would have been off the radar of most Chinese people if he had never starred in a sex video. The former district official in the city of Chongqing was sacked after a racy clip circulated widely online.
Follow-up reports showed he was set up by a woman under a local company's instigation. The company used such videos to threaten officials for illegal purposes.
Lei is not alone as a philandering official to have gotten into trouble with authorities. A recent report by Renmin University of China showed as much as 95 percent of officials being investigated have mistresses.
Bribers are taking advantage of such officials' soft ribs -- as in the case of Lei, women may serve as political brokers or bait.
The successive sex scandals may erode the public's confidence in officials and even result in rumors or bias against women's professional rise.
An example of this came is the appointment of a former beauty contest winner to a government post in Lengshuijiang, a city in central China's Hunan Province.
The appointment was alleged by a blogger to have been a "deal behind the scenes."
The blogger was detained for libel as local police said the woman had a "proper lifestyle," according to a report by the Southern Metropolis Daily.
The libel case demonstrated what a challenge China's leaders are facing when they push forward an image-building campaign for the ruling party and try to win the people's trust.
The central authorities certainly cannot tolerate disruptive officials. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC pledged on Tuesday to cage official power by rules and regulations.
Again, the central leadership issued a clarion call to build a clean government. A clean government should be served by clean bureaucrats who can at least avoid sex traps.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, few heroes can resist the lure of beauty. In this sense, Communist officials should demonstrate their strength as superheroes in their fight against corruption.