It's the sort of thing we haven't really seen since the Cold War. But US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks allege that China's former finance minister Jin Renjing had to resign in 2007 because he was caught in a honeytrap with a spy from bitter rival Taiwan.
Mr Jin's resignation was down to "personal reasons", sending the gossip machine into overdrive. Initially, it focused on the various economic reasons, but with the Chinese economy surging away at around 10 per cent growth, that seemed unlikely.
And then a whole web of romantic intrigue emerged, with some of the country's most powerful men sharing the affections of one woman.
According to the cable, the woman conducted simultaneous affairs with several other prominent Chinese figures, including Chen Tonghai, who was chief of the oil group Sinopec at the time, and Du Qinglin, who was Sichuan provincial Communist Party secretary.
The woman was introduced to the men as "someone working with Chinese military intelligence". She was described by one male acquaintance as "anything but pulchritudinous".