It’s impossible to count the number of mistresses in China. Just check the stories of disgruntled mistresses coming forward and upending their powerful married boyfriends’ political or business careers over the last two years as China’s anti-corruption campaign rumbles on. And those that have gone public are mostly a small group of attractive women in their 20s.
Just to put things in perspective, a study by the Crisis Management Research Center at Renmin University found that 95 percent of corrupt government officials sacked in 2012 kept mistresses, known as xiaosan or ernai, and 30,315 corrupt officials were placed under investigation that year. So you do the math.
Given some officials had more than one mistress – in some cases, more than 140 – and considering the fact wealthy businessmen also tend to collect mistresses, which aren’t included in the total, the overall number of mistresses must be massive. This booming industry has spawned an entirely new business in Chongqing: “Mistress Breaker”. That’s right, trained professionals can now be hired to get in touch with the Other Woman and get her to back off.
Yufeng, a director of a relationship agency that provides “Mistress Breakers”, said his agency was responsible for persuading more than 100 mistresses to give up their relationships with married men since it started operating in Chongqing in 2012. “People call our team ‘Xiaosan buster’ or ‘Xiaosan breaker’,” Yufeng said. Yufeng, himself, is a mistress breaker responsible for pushing back more than 1,000 mistresses when he lived in Shanghai.
His clients are mostly wealthy, middle-aged women who hire him and his team to break their husbands’ relationships with normally younger and single women. One of Yufeng’s latest cases involves the chairman of a company. His wife has asked Yufeng to help get rid of his much younger girlfriend.
The breaking-up process is normally quite complicated, according to Yufeng. First, like a marriage consultant, a mistress breaker has to identify why the man sought an extramarital affair in the first place. Then, he or she needs to befriend the husband, the wife and the mistress to work out a way to break the relationship. Most of the time money is the ultimate solution, he said.
But then there are the rogue cases, where mistresses won’t go without a fight. In one case, the wife and husband eventually teamed up against the mistress because she had become a threat to their personal safety, Yufeng said.
“Making a xiaosan walk away requires us to work quietly in secrecy. It’s not as easy as it seems. When a client comes to us, it normally takes three to six months to get it done. Some even longer. Several clients’ cases are quite complicated and it could take a year,” he added.
At the end of a day when the job is done, Yufeng and his team are given a handsome payment. He refused to say what that is though, only admitting “it is quite high” and involves the cost of labor, times, his consultancy fee and other expenses.
“Our charge is relatively high, and is calculated based on time and the difficulty of each case,” he said.
As China’s divorce rate rises and the country’s anti-corruption campaign gains momentum, we imagine Yufeng and his agency’s phone will keep buzzing for a long long time to come.