The status symbols of Chinese officials these days?
It's not luxury cars, homes or designer threads.
Chinese women know which side of the bread is buttered and if you're pretty and not making enough money to satisfy your material desires, why not be a mistress?
According to the Wuhan Commission for Discipline Inspection, 20 percent of the local officials that were investigated for corruption had mistresses.
Of the 509 corruption and discipline violation cases that included five city-level cadres and 69 directors, the body handed down disciplinary punishment to 608 people, sent 76 to the judicial authorities for more action and recovered 35 million yuan ($5.1 million).
The commission said some officials were addicted to gambling and women, as videos of officials having rendez-vous with their mistresses were uploaded onto the Internet.
"Having mistresses is a thing to be proud of today. Some officials even feel ashamed of not having affairs," said Wang Chunying, a professor of administration at China Foreign Affairs University.
"The mistress scandals reflect the officials' loosening moral qualities, authorities' weak supervision and many holes in the government system," continued Wang. "They won't keep mistresses if the money didn't come so easily."
Recently the chief of a tobacco administration bureau in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region named Han Feng was exposed -- literally -- when his diary was put online, allegedly detailing his escapades with at least six female subordinates and colleagues.
In it he details his daily life, from all the gadgets he buys to the heavy drinking and then his sexual exploits with women. Not to mention he's married and has a son.
Han makes it all look like this is what officials do day-to-day, which if true, completely confirms the public's suspicions, and also drags down officialdom in the mud... or worse than mud.
While Han has been removed from the post and an investigation is underway, and Wuhan says 20 percent of its officials are corrupt, what about the rest of the country? Wouldn't there be similar cases, especially in richer provinces like Jiangsu and Guangdong?
While some of these mistresses might be married, their desire to get their hands on money for a sexual favour or two is not only terribly shallow, but shows that money talks.
And that could explain why young men who want to marry can't find a partner because otherwise eligible women are too busy riding the gravy train.
But the bigger question is -- are these people having safe sex? Currently the government is blaming it on homosexuals and drug users for some 276,000 AIDS cases in China last year, while non-governmental groups say it's as high as 700,000. Perhaps the government should have an in-depth investigation to see if there is a correlation between affairs and AIDS...
Just a thought.