Many of you have been emailing about this story. To truly appreciate it though, maybe a general backgrounder on what it means to be a Chinese entertainer...?
There’s a reason my ma, the Chinese Squawking Chicken, thinks actresses are whores. It’s because in Chinese Asia, they almost always are. I spent my childhood summers in Hong Kong. The Miss Hong Kong pageant was a big ass deal when were growing up. One year the winner ended up being this rather unremarkable girl, not particularly well spoken, not tall, not even all that attractive. Chinese people are BITCHES. And they were pretty obvious about saying, straight up, even to her face, that she was, um, a lot more low quality than previous winners and certainly in comparison to her competitors in the field. They said she only won because she was the concubine of one of the richest people on the peninsula, the dude who owned the television station. Photos soon emerged of the two of them together.
No one does corruption like the Chinese do corruption. I promise you. If there was an Olympics of Corruption, we would win every single year. Silver would never be acceptable. Corruption and Greed are built into our DNA, and since we’re such an old culture, they’ve mutated in ways that you other people can’t even begin to hope to catch up to. Why do you think Confucius was Chinese? That kind of morality could only be borne in reaction to the worst of humanity; like light and dark, compassion and suffering, it’s an origin from an opposite. Only a Chinese person could have come up with the baby formula scandal. Only Chinese people could have walked past that child who’d been run over repeatedly by a car, worrying instead about their money.
This genetic defect is made even worse when applied to entertainment and politics. Which is the dirty place we find ourselves in now. In Hong Kong, the entertainment industry is controlled by triads. Has been for a long, long time. Obviously not what North Americans want to know about Jackie Chan because how could someone with such a nice smile have such sinister associates. Jackie Chan could never, ever have become “Jackie Chan” without paying his dues to the people in power.
Hong Kong used to run (mostly) independently where show business was related. As you know, in 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China from British control. They tried to keep it all separate for a while but Hong Kong experienced a recession in the early 2000s. The only way to save the HK economy was to encourage spending from the Mainland. They opened the gates and the Mainlanders rushed the peninsula. There’s money on the Mainland?
The richest people in China are Communists. High ranking Communist officials - and there are more of them than you can imagine - are the ones who send their kids to school abroad. To Oxford, Harvard, MIT, even without the grades, but they do show up with big donations. My father used to work in China. His company operated out of an office building. Several times a week the Communist guards would keep the gates closed so no one could actually get anything done. And how did you get the gates to go up?
An envelope full of cash.
That cash would find its way up the Communist food chain to be eventually spent on a $200,000 car by the son of a Communist minister “studying” in Vancouver.
So all this Mainland money is being spent in Hong Kong. And eventually the culture changes too. Now the Mainlanders want a piece of the entertainment action. Now they want access to the stars, now they want favours, and they’ll force them through if they have to. There is already resentment between Hong Kong Chinese and Mainland Chinese. Much of this animosity is reflected in the Hong Kong media, already a pretty nasty business. The HK media makes the News Of The World look kind. A few years ago, a famous HK actress was gang-raped by triad members. One of the tabloids actually POSTED THE PHOTOS. The increased Mainland presence in Hong Kong has only led to increasing entrenchment on both sides, which is one of the reasons why Hong Kong is where all the leaks happen.
You already know about Communist censorship. They observe the party line, they only allow the most singsong happy happy China stories to be published. The Hong Kong outlets are where you can find the Communist criticism. Every time a Communist government official f-cks up, Hong Kong is all over it.
And that’s where we find Bo Xilai. Briefly - Bo was a promising star in the Party and his wife a successful businesswoman who worked closely with an English businessman called Neil Heywood. Heywood was found dead. At first no one cared how he died. They just buried it and went on with their business. Then one day, Bo’s assistant, let’s call him Joe, with whom he’d worked for many, many years, just showed up at the US Embassy asking for help. He was there for hours. No one knows exactly what was said. The Americans, delighting in this potential scandal for the Chinese, coyly intimated that this dude had some incriminating evidence. Then the Communists show up and demand that Joe be released back to them. Joe had no choice but to go with the Party. Who knows what’s going to happen to Joe now. Joe is f-cked. And then the British wake up to the fact that one of their citizens died a suspicious death.
Now the Communist Party is compelled to (finally) do something about the situation. Suddenly Mrs Bo and Heywood are implicated in an affair. Suddenly it’s suggested that Mrs Bo killed him. Bo himself goes into lockdown, forced to retreat and swallow the story so that his wife could take the fall. But Hong Kong conspiracists believe that Heywood was helping the Bo family move their money overseas, and that somehow the sh-t went ugly, and Bo would have been the only one to order his execution. The Party though, to save face for one of their officials, decided they’d sacrifice his wife instead. Bo was moved to house arrest, his career in ruins, but his life (temporarily) spared, and his son protected.
And how does Zhang Ziyi fit in? It’s been reported that Zhang was paid over $100 million to sleep with Communist officials, including Bo Xilai. She vehemently denies the claims. You can imagine the Hong Kong papers are running wild with this story.
I have no idea. Those aren’t exactly the circles you want to be running in, you know? I mean, these people make Harvey Weinstein seem sweet and cuddly. What I will say is that if she did do it, she would not have had to be paid that much money.
You think she would have had a choice?
You think she’d be allowed to leave the country, take care of her family, keep her apartment, buy groceries, if she had turned down a request from the Communist Party? Do you actually think they’re reasonable? Do you actually think they’re generous?
Come on, now.
Given the disgusting nature of the Chinese entertainment industry and how they’ve always treated their talent, I don’t doubt that she was passed around. And she would have been FORCED. So instead of hating on her for it, calling her a whore, and labelling her a loose woman, consider the circumstances of the country that owns her. What are the choices for Chinese women born to low pedigree in China? Google Foxconn right now and read about the working conditions of factory employees making iPads and iPods every day for less than a dollar, living in cramped quarters and dismal conditions. The word OPTION is a f-cking luxury. 9 out of 10 women at Foxconn would have done what Zhang Ziyi allegedly did. I recommend a lot more sympathy for her before calling her a hooker. She’s caught in a mess between international governments and media interests that have everything to gain by bringing her down.
By the way - what you’ve just read is the smutty version of events that you might not get in legit western newspapers. Sometimes you have to go to a Chinese Squawking Chicken to properly break down a gossip story.