That has not stopped some from passing judgment on others, but in most cases police or neighborhood grannies are no longer acting as sleuths to find out who is cheating on whom.
As is typical for many issues in an age of profound transformation, some are elated by the growing respect for privacy and others saddened by the deterioration of morals.
But the public seems to be united when it comes to hanky-panky by officials, viewing it as a manifestation of the corruption that is gnawing at the social fabric of the country and that the government is working so hard to root out.
Whenever a report of an official being investigated surfaces, it is the number of girlfriends or concubines that grabs the spotlight. And if there is a video clip of him in the middle of the act, you can be rest assured that it will go viral and turn him into the butt of national mockery.
When Lei Zhengfu, a district officer from Chongqing municipality, was videotaped by a young woman hired by a local businessman in an attempt to win government contracts, the sex tape not only undid his career (he was sacked and then sentenced to 13 years in prison for other crimes), but also to his possible self-image as an alpha male (the sex act lasted a mere 12 seconds, winning him the nickname "12-second Lei").
And he was not particularly good-looking in the video, to put it mildly.
What if he looked like a Chinese George Clooney and turned out to be an extremely good lover? Would it have changed the nature of sex as bribery?
Legally it would not, of course, but in the eyes of many he would have emerged as a Don Juan perhaps rather than someone people love to ridicule.
I have often wondered about the scenario when someone in power meets the girl of his dreams and she, unaware of his real professional or income status, falls for him as well.
Wouldn't that be romantic? It would be like the chivalrous tales of old Europe when aristocratic youth pretended to be poor college students to seduce innocent young women.
The reason people deem it true love is the absence of power and wealth. After all, there are powerful or wealthy people whose charisma is enough to win them a battalion of paramours.