Planet China

Bottom of the class

Excuses from officials often end up as buzzwords in China’s social media. “Female classmate” is the latest term to enter the lexicon after a series of risque photos circulated online.

The phrase emerged in an explanation from a man surnamed Jiao from Jiangsu’s Yancheng after photos of him groping a woman at a karaoke bar appeared online. Jiao, who is in his mid-forties, was shown necking the younger woman as she sat on a table in front of him.

It looked like a pretty standard case of a naughtily-behaved official caught online. But it was Jiao’s response to the photos that led to his story going viral. “I was just hugging my female classmate,” Jiao explained, adding that he had met up with her at a school reunion.

Netizens were deeply unconvinced, pointing out that the photos seemed to be taken with a pinhole camera, which could have been a sign that Jiao had fallen into a blackmail trap. Few netizens showed him mercy, mocking the explanation for his behaviour. “The next directive from President Xi should ban officials from over-hugging their female classmates,” one scoffed.

The Party’s discipline watchdog confirmed this week that the classmate in question was in fact a prostitute who works in the karaoke bar. Jiao has been suspended and is now under investigation.

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