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China’s Most-Discussed Love Triangle: Wang Baoqiang, Ma Rong and Song Zhe

The separation between actor Wang Baoqiang and his estranged wife Ma Rong – due to a love affair with Wang’s manager Song Zhe – is a never-ending story.

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It is a story that just keeps trending on Weibo; the separation between actor Wang Baoqiang and his estranged wife Ma Rong due to an illicit love affair with Wang’s manager Song Zhe. With Ma allegedly regretting the split and Song having been arrested for embezzlement, many netizens say that “justice has been served.”

It was the divorce of the decade. The 2016 split between Chinese movie star Wang Baoqiang and his wife Ma Rong, the mother of his two children, made big news in China after Wang himself exposed that his estranged wife had a secret love affair with his agent Song Zhe (宋喆).

The story unfolded itself on Weibo, as the public posts and comments by both Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong sparked intense debate. The majority of Weibo’s netizens sided with Wang Baoqiang, saying that Ma Rong only married him for his money.

Wang and Ma in happier times.

The celebrity couple break-up especially drew wide attention because of the general perception many Chinese people have of Wang. Born and raised in a poor family in rural China, Wang fought his way to the top of China’s movie industry, becoming a well-known and respected actor. Rather than seeing him as a successful millionaire, many see the ‘Chinese dream’ in him.

The general support for Wang also means that the majority of Chinese netizens like to see Ma Rong and ex-manager Song Zhe punished for what they did.

Song Zhe Arrested

A year after the initial separation, it seems that the Wang vs Ma divorce drama just has no end to it. On September 12th, Wang’s former agent Song Zhe was arrested in Beijing for embezzlement – a topic that immediately became trending on Chinese social media under the hashtag ‘Song Zhe Arrested’ (#宋喆被抓#).

The direct cause of his arrest is the police report filed by Wang Baoqiang’s studio “Strong Baby” (强宝贝), which accused Song Zhe of abusing his position as studio manager during a four-year period from 2012 to 2016. Song allegedly took money that clients paid for use of the studio for personal use.

After an investigation, Chaoyang police arrested Song Zhe on charges of embezzlement. The case is still ongoing and no further information on court dates have been released.

The majority of Weibo’s netizens, in support of Wang Baoqiang, are celebrating the news of Song Zhe’s arrest. One post, which received over 200,000 likes, said: “This news makes me feel so good! The cheating guy is in prison, when is that sl**t Ma Rong going to be arrested?”

Refusing divorce

Adding to the recent dramatic developments is an exclusive report by Tencent Entertainment News, which states that during Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong’s second court date regarding their divorce, Ma Rong refuse to sign the divorce papers. During this court hearing, Ma reportedly claimed that she is still in love with Wang Baoqiang, and therefore does not want to divorce.

“Shameless,” “She is only in love with his money,” and “This is the funniest joke of the year, is she crazy?”, typical Weibo comments said.

Despite Ma’s refusal to sign, however, experts say that the marriage can be annulled on the grounds that it is ‘damaged beyond repair.’

What goes around, comes around

While Song Zhe is awaiting his trial in jail, Ma Rong has been restricted to leave the country. According to recent reports, Ma previously attempted to emigrate to Australia using her wealth to obtain a visa through illegal means.

For most people on Weibo, the current messiness in both Songs’s and Ma’s private lives is an issue of ‘what goes around, comes around.’

Under Chinese law, there is no punishment for being the cheater, lover or mistress in a divorce case. However, many say that in its own way, “justice has been served.”

“They deserve what is coming to them,” some said.

By Miranda Barnes & Richard Barnes

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Richard Barnes is a blogger, part time translator, and China-based musician. Born in London, he moved to Beijing where he now lives with his with his wife Miranda Barnes. On www.abearandapig.com they share news of their year-long trip around Europe and Asia.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Zarmac

    October 5, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Bla

  2. Eugene

    October 5, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Mr. Barnes, if you’re reading this…please correct the reiteration mistake in the second sentence of your introduction. I had to do a double take to read that. Thanks.

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China Celebs

Female Comedian Yang Li and the Intel Controversy

A decision that backfired: Intel’s act of supposed ‘inclusion’ caused the exclusion of female comedian Yang Li.

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“How to look at the boycott of Yang Li?” (#如何看待抵制杨笠#) became a top trending topic on social media site Weibo on Monday after female comedian Yang Li was dismissed as the spokesperson for American tech company Intel over a controversial ad campaign.

On March 18, Intel released an ad on its Weibo account in which Yang says “Intel has a taste [for laptops] that is higher than my taste for men” (“英特尔的眼光太高了,比我挑对象的眼光都高.”)

The ad drew complaints for allegedly insulting men, with some social media users vowing to boycott the tech brand. On Sunday, Intel deleted the ad in question from its social media page and reportedly also removed Yang from her position as their brand ambassador.

The commotion over the ad had more to do with Chinese comedian Yang Li (杨笠) than with the specific lines that were featured in it.

Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence“), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.”

Since she appeared on the stand-up comedy TV competition Rock and Roast (脱口秀大会) last year, she was nicknamed the the “punchline queen” and became one of the more influential comedians in present-day China. Yang now has nearly 1,5 million fans on Weibo (@-杨笠-).

Yang Li’s bold jokes and sharp way of talking about gender roles and differences between men and women in Chinese society is one of the main reasons she became so famous. Intel surely knew this when asking Yang to be their brand ambassador.

In light of the controversy, the fact that Intel was so quick to remove Yang also triggered criticism. Some (male) netizens felt that Intel, a company that sells laptops, could not be represented by a woman who makes fun of men, while these men are a supposed target audience for Intel products.

But after Yang was removed, many (female) netizens also felt offended, suggesting that in the 21st century, Intel couldn’t possibly believe that their products were mainly intended for men (“以男性用户为主”)? Wasn’t their female customer base just as important?

According to online reports, Intel responded by saying: “We noted that the content [we] spread relating to Yang Li caused controversy, and this is not what we had anticipated. We place great importance on diversity and inclusion. We fully recognize and value the diverse world we live in, and are committed to working with partners from all walks of life to create an inclusive workplace and social environment.”

However, Intel’s decision backfired, as many wondered why having Yang as their brand ambassador would not go hand in hand with ‘promoting an inclusive social environment.’

“Who are you being ‘inclusive’ too? Common ‘confident’ men?”, one person wrote, with others saying: “Why can so many beauty and cosmetic brands be represented by male idols and celebrities? I loathe these double standards.”

“As a Chinese guy, I really think Yang Li is funny. I didn’t realize Chinese men had such a lack of humor!” another Weibo user writes.

There are also people raising the issue of Yang’s position and how people are confusing her performative work with her actual character. One popular law blogger wrote: “Really, boycotting Yang Li is meaningless. Stand-up comedy is a performance, just as the roles people play in a TV drama.”

Just a month ago, another Chinese comedian also came under fire for his work as a brand ambassador for female underwear brand Ubras.

It is extremely common in China for celebrities to be brand ambassadors; virtually every big celebrity is tied to one or more brands. Signing male celebrities to promote female-targeted products is also a popular trend (Li 2020). Apparently, there is still a long way to go when the tables are turned – especially when it is about female celebrities with a sharp tongue.

By Manya Koetse

Li, Xiaomeng. 2020. “How powerful is the female gaze? The implication of using male celebrities for promoting female cosmetics in China.” Global Media and China, Vol.5 (1), p.55-68.

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

The Online Hit of the China-US Meeting in Alaska: Interpreter Zhang Jing

While the China-US meeting is all the talk, it is interpreter Zhang Jing who has hit the limelight.

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It probably was not easy to translate the tough talks at the high-level meeting between the U.S. and China in Anchorage. Chinese female translator Zhang Jing became an online hit in China for remaining unflustered, graceful, and accurate.

Over the past days, the U.S.-China strategic talks in Anchorage have been a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media.

The first major U.S.-China meeting of the Biden administration ended on Friday, March 19. Despite the tense start of the meeting and some describing the talks as a “diplomatic clash,” China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪) called the meeting “frank, constructive and helpful,” New York Times reports.

While international media focused on the meeting and what their outcome means for Sino-American relations and the foreign strategies of China and the U.S., many Weibo users focused on interpreter Zhang Jing (张京) who joined the meeting.

One video of the first session of the diplomatic talks shows how Yang Jiechi starts his response to the American side at 8.30 minutes, going on for over 15 minutes until the 24.36-minute mark. Next to him, interpreter Zhang Jing is fiercely taking notes.

When Yang is finished speaking, he glances to foreign minister Wang Yi on his right to let him speak, after which Zhang says, “Shall I first translate?”

While the U.S. side was awaiting the translation, Yang then says: “Ok, you translate,” adding in English: “It’s a test for the interpreter,” after which the American side says “We’re gonna give the translator a raise!”

Zhang then goes ahead and calmly translates Yang’s entire 15-minute speech directed at American secretary Blinken and national security advisor Sullivan.

To give a speedy translation of such a lengthy off-the-record speech is seen as a sign of Zhang’s utmost professionalism as an interpreter, which many on Weibo praise. “She’s my idol,” multiple people write.

On Sunday, the hashtag “China-U.S. Talks Female Interpreter Zhang Jing” (#中美对话女翻译官张京#) had reached 200 million views.

It’s not the first time for Zhang to become an online hit. She was previously also called “the most beautiful interpreter” of the National Congress in 2013.

Zhang Jing is a graduate of the China Foreign Affairs University (外交学院) and has been working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2007.

Being an interpreter is generally regarded an exciting and attractive job by many Chinese netizens, as the career involves much traveling and international contacts. But the ability to master another language than Chinese is also often admired.

In 2016, a TV drama titled The Interpreters (亲爱的翻译官) became a major hit, featuring Chinese actress Yang Mi who plays a Chinese-French interpreter on her way to start her professional career.

“Translators are usually the ‘heroes behind the scenes’,” one commenter writes, pointing out how rare it is for an interpreter to hit the limelight like this.

“There are still people saying it’s not important to learn English,” another Weibo user writes: “But if that were true, how could we educate brilliant interpreters like Zhang Jing? How else could we quarrel with Americans at the conference table?!”

Many who write about Zhang on Weibo say that she is an example or a role model to them: “I hope that my spoken English one day would be as excellent as hers. This motivates me to try even harder.”

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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