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BEIJING TIMES (CHINA) CHINA TIMES (Taiwan)

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - Over the last few days, China’s blogosphere has been heating up with spicy rumors that could stretch all the way back to Silicon Valley: a female director of the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC) has been accused of accepting gigolos as bribes from an American tech firm.

The woman executive, whose family name is Zhang, denied the charges, calling the story a malicious slander, and reporting it to Beijing police on Thursday.

According to the Beijing Times, it was a blogger who first reported allegations related to a bid for the massive Sinopec Wuhan ethylene project by Agilent Technologies, a Silicon Valley company that manufactures electronic and bio-analytical measurement instruments. To help win the bid of around 18 billion RMB ($2.86 billion), Agilent allegedly paid for Zhang to enjoy the personal services provided by two African gigolos, and videotaped the encounter to use as eventual blackmail.

The accusation gave meticulous details about the affair. The bribery included a luxurious dinner followed by a trip to a private club on the outskirts of Beijing reserved for rich and powerful women, the China Times reported. The main feature of the club is that it boasts the services of “tall and mighty African gigolos with extraordinary skills.”

The accuser also stated that Zhang colluded with Agilent Technologies so that during the evaluation process the latter lowered its tendered price to be sure to get the business, according to the Beijing Times.

In a country where the public is used to seeing powerful male officials competing to have the most mistresses possible, the latest accusation has gotten extra attention.

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Sinopec HQ (whispertome)

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

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Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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