Tax fraud, adultery, and #MeToo—it hasn’t been a good year for celebs
As 2019 approaches, so does the usual array of lists and round-ups for the dwindling year. In the spirit of variety, The World of Chinese has endeavored to chronicle the countdowns that others don’t. Try elsewhere (or, indeed, everywhere) for your everyday 2018 listicles—here you will find the stories, characters and pratfalls that the rest of the English-language media has largely overlooked.
Idle netizens who enjoy celebrity gossip often call themselves the “melon-eating masses (吃瓜群众),” meaning they like watching the action, but don’t really want to participate.
Accordingly, celebrities gossip is likened to melons, the juicier the better. In this regard, 2018 was definitely a good year for melon farmers, with a productive harvest since the start. TWOC has compiled a list of the Top 10 scandals for all you melon-colics out there.
1. Affair of married actress and rising rapper
Dubbed the “First Melon of 2018,” actress Li Xiaolu was seen going home with rapper PG One on December 30, 2017, only leaving the next morning. The rapper was a co-winner on Season One of The Rap of China, and apparently a friend of Li’s husband, actor Jia Nailiang. Worse, Jia had live-streamed himself earlier, mentioning that his wife was out “getting her hair done,” a choice of words which soon became a meme for adultery. This December, Jia posted on Weibo that he “is doing well with [him]self,” which triggered speculation about whether the pair had divorced.
2. Little Three opens fire at Little Four and Little Five
If there is any scandal worse than adultery for a celebrity, this is it. In September, actress Chen Yuxiu exposed her secret relationship with married actor Wu Xiubo, claiming they’d been together for seven years but that Wu had recently abandoned her. At the price of labeling herself a “little three (mistress),” Chen named two of Wu’s other two alleged mistresses, one of whom was actress Zhang Zhixi. However, Zhang threw a wrench in the matter, stating that she wasn’t Wu’s mistress but a victim of his sexual harassment. “[Wu] has harassed me several times; I haven’t called the police yet,” she wrote. Wu’s attorneys have now sent letters to various social networks, asking them to remove “slander.”
3. “China’s Hugh Jackman” arrested for sexual assault in Sydney
Chinese actor Gao Yunxiang was arrested after a woman accused him and another man, Wang Jing, of sexual assault in Sydney on March 26. Gao plead not guilty, but was denied bail after the prosecution argued that he could flee back to China before trial, since no extradition treaty exists between China and Australia. In June, Gao was finally released on 3 million AUD (2.2 million USD) bail. Amusingly, during his defense, Gao’s lawyers dubbed him “China’s Hugh Jackman,” implying that Gao enjoyed a similar level of fame at home as the Australian X-Men actor—a claim which was heartily mocked by Chinese netizens.
4. Intern sues CCTV host for sexual assault
In July, famous CCTV host Zhu Jun became one of the targets of China’s #MeToo Movement when a former intern at the state broadcaster alleged that he made unsolicited sexual advances toward her, while working on his show Artistic Life. News of the incident has been heavily censored online, and Zhu did not show up to the case’s first hearing on October 25. There have been no further developments at this time.
5. Fan Bingbing’s tax evasion
In June, CCTV host Cui Yongyuan accused actress Fan Bingbing of evading taxes by signing so-called “yin-yang contracts” to hide her true income (and claimed he had similar dirt on many other celebrities in the biz), starting a long and weird saga, wherein Fan disappeared from the public eye shortly after, only to resurface in October with a public apology admitting that she’d been in detention amid investigations for tax fraud. Fan eventually got off with a slap on the wrist, avoiding jail time in exchange for paying outstanding taxes and fines.
6. Huang Xiaoming accused of manipulating stocks
In August, Huang Xiaoming, another highly paid star, was accused of manipulating stock prices—reportedly amounting to 1.8 billion RMB. A Chinese financial news website reported that Huang was linked to well-known stock trader Gao Yong, who had been found guilty of this practice.
Huang later released a detailed statement on Weibo, saying that he did even not know Gao, and was not involved in any funny business. “I stress once again that I do not know Gao,” wrote Huang. “My mother has managed my stock account and she entrusted the account to an agent whose surname is Lu, who then transferred it to Gao. It is Gao who decided the trading, while my mother and I have not participated in manipulation.”
Huang was reportedly questioned for three hours by Chinese investigators, but was not charged with any wrongdoing. On the other hand, Gao has been ordered to pay a penalty of nearly 1.8 billion RMB by the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
7. “Queen of Idol Dramas” arrested for drunk driving
Known as Taiwan’s “Queen of Idol Dramas,” television star Joe Chen was arrested on January 4 for drunk driving in Taipei, the police said. According to Apple Daily, the 38-year-old was stopped by a police officer when she turned against a red light at 1:58 a.m. After she took a breath test, and was found to have an alcohol level of 0.67mg, Chen was taken to a police station. Chen was later transferred to Taipei District Public Prosecutors Office, and released after a lawyer put up bail of 100,000 NTD (4,490 USD) for her.
8. Yang Mi’s fake donation
In March, a news website alleged that actress Yang Mi had agreed to donate 100 walking sticks and 50 Braille writing-machines to a school in Chengdu in 2015, but failed to deliver on the promise. Yang’s representatives quickly issued a statement to clarify that they were unaware that the donation had not gone through, as they used a middleman named Li Meng, with whom they’d previously made a donation in 2013. The gifts were finally received on March 31, and Yang apologized on Weibo, writing: “No matter the reason, letting the children wait for two years is a mistake on the part of my team and me. Any criticism is warranted and we can only complete the donation to express our apology.”
9. Stars defend Jiang Jinfu’s domestic violence
Actor Jiang Jinfu admitted to assaulting his Japanese girlfriend Haruka Nakaura in November, but some of his celebrity friends tried to defend him, much to the outrage of netizens. Actor Hu Ge published a post on Weibo, which included “Something happened today that made me think of him from seven years ago. On that hot summer day, I saw a bright youngster…regardless of what happened in the past few years, he will always be that bright youngster in my heart…we still need to know the truth.”
Singer Yu Haomin, actor Dou Xiao, and actresses Gulnazar and Jiang Mengjie have also gone on social media to reminisce about what a “sunny boy” Jiang Jinfu used to be. Jiang Mengjie even claimed, “One hand alone can’t clap,” indicating that the victim was also to blame. Many of these stars subsequently apologized, after their “blind friendship” with Jiang Jinfu was roasted online.
10. Pop singer caught using drugs
In November, Chen Yufan, member of China’s most popular singing duo Yu Quan, was arrested in possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. According to the police report, the 43-year-old singer was caught with a 25-year-old woman, and police found 7.96 grams of methamphetamine and 2.14 grams of marijuana in Chen’s home. Soon, Hu Haiquan, the other half of the duo, was wringing his hands on Weibo:
Why? Why did it have to be you? Why would you do something so wrong? Why didn’t you share your agony with your closest friends? Why did you hide it from me for so long? Why did you choose such a stupid way to escape reality? Why didn’t you think about your parents and child when you sank down? Why did you forget that so many people had given us trust and hope in the past 20 years? Why? Why?!
Most netizens, though, thought Hu did protest too much: