Planet China

Something borrowed

America’s first political sex scandal is often said to have involved Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers. In 1797 he was revealed to have conducted an affair with a married woman for two years. More remarkable was that he had paid the woman’s husband over $1,000 to sanction it.

In Zhejiang province a less prominent figure was discovered to have made a similar offer. In 2012 a man named Chen, a petty crook, met a woman surnamed Zeng and began to live with her. Three months into their happy union, Zeng’s estranged husband knocked on the door and demanded that his wife come home with him. She refused.

Not willing to leave empty-handed, the husband ventured that Chen should pay a “transfer fee” of Rmb10,000 ($1,499) for his wife. Lovesick but broke Chen agreed, planning to raise the capital by stealing it from his neighbours. Chen reportedly stole Rmb10,500 from a local family and used it to pay the husband. Their honeymoon period was short-lived: about a year later he was arrested for other crimes and sentenced to two years in prison. But much like Alexander Hamilton, the details of Chen’s affair didn’t surface until long after the fact, this time thanks to fingerprints pulled from the break-in at his neighbour’s house. Now Chen is facing trial for stealing the Rmb10,500 as well.

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