China's internet vigilantes target British ex-pat cad

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The Independent Online

Chinabounder, an anonymous British expat and self-confessed wastrel in his early 30s, likes to boast on his weblog of his sexual conquests of Chinese women, including some of his students. This has so outraged Shanghai's web citizens that they have resolved to track him down and "kick the foreign trash out of China".

In racy language suggesting a Terry-Thomas-like rogue cutting a dash in the seedy bars of Shanghai, Chinabounder describes seducing a different girl every night of the week.

The postings are also critical of Chinese male sexual prowess and contain occasional snipes at Chairman Mao Tse-tung's womanising and the frustrations of Chinese housewives.

The collection of juvenile if provocative musings on sexual mores in contemporary China may even be a hoax cooked up by artists to gauge the reaction in China to such unsavoury comments from a foreigner.

Access to his "Sex and Shanghai" blog - which attracted millions of readers - is currently denied as the author hides from a wave of contempt. Cyber-vigilantes, furious at his claimed seductions of married women and teenagers, have threatened him with a beating if they track him down and some comments are couched in dangerously xenophobic language.

Shanghai, China's biggest city, has tens of thousands of foreigners, many of them students and language teachers. Intimate relationships between locals and foreigners have grown more common - Mick Jagger alluded to this before the Rolling Stones' Shanghai show in March when he said a ban on certain songs in their repertoire was designed to protect expatriate bankers and their Chinese girlfriends. There are rarely reports of racial tension.But some reactions to Chinabounder have been furious.Zhang Jiehai, a professor of psychology at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, describes the blogger as a "piece of garbage" and "an immoral foreigner". "Netizens and compatriots, if you are a Chinese man with guts and if you respect Chinese women, please join this 'internet hunt for the immoral foreigner'," he wrote. Other postings have called for Chinabounder's head and described his girlfriends as "national scum".

Jeremy Goldkorn, the publisher of the influential Danwei website, believes that most people have been measured in their response.

"A lot of the comments about Chinabounder have been fairly moderate - people saying how Chinese men are far worse than Chinabounder, for example, or pointing out that there was no question of rape or anything like that," he said. And there have even been imitators. An overseas-born ethnic Chinese woman has set up a site, ABC Chick in Shanghai, describes herself as Chinabounderess and defends Chinabounder. She then goes on to describe her own flirtations in Shanghai.