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Divorce Drama: Wang Leehom and Lee Jinglei’s Wild Weibo Week

Wang Leehom’s marriage ended, and so did all of his sponsorship deals.

Manya Koetse

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Wang Leehom and Lee Jinglei are dominating trending topic lists on Weibo this weekend. There has not been a bigger online drama surrounding a celebrity divorce since Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong.

Besides Westlife’s online China concert, the divorce of Mandopop star Wang Leehom (王力宏) and Lee Jinglei (李靚蕾) was one of the major Weibo topics this week.

Wang Leehom (1976) is a popular Taiwanese-American singer and actor who has previously been dubbed the “King of Chinese Pop.” Now, it’s not his music that has gone viral on Chinese social media, but his tumultuous personal life.

On December 15, Wang announced that after eight years of marriage, he was divorcing his wife Lee Jinglei (1986) after the couple had decided to each go their separate ways. That announcement received over 100,000 comments and 3,5 million likes on Weibo, where Wang has over 67 million fans (@王力宏).

On Friday, December 17, Wang’s ex-wife published a lengthy post in which she accused Wang of wrongdoings during their marriage. Lee Jinglei has over three million fans on her Weibo account (@李靚蕾Jinglei). That post received a staggering 11,9 million likes within two days time (for reference, one of the Weibo posts with the most likes received some 19 million likes).

Lee called writing her post “one of the most difficult decisions” she ever made in her life.

In the lengthy text, Lee explains how she sacrificed a lot – including her own career – to start a family with Wang and dedicate herself to being a wife and a mother to their three children. Raising the issue of how women often face financial income inequality in marriage, Lee writes that she feels Wang treated her unfairly during their married life. She also alleges Wang had several affairs and visited prostitutes, while also being an absent father.

Wang and Lee in happier times.

Rather than a loyal husband and a loving dad, Lee paints a picture of Lee as a manipulative liar and a serial cheater.

Lee and her children.

The very next day after the post, various brands that Wang worked for as a brand spokesperson started to terminate their contracts. The hashtag “Multiple Brands Terminate Wang Leehom Contract” (#多个品牌陆续和王力宏解约#) started trending online as luxury car brand Infiniti, jewelry brand Chow Tai Seng and others announced they would no longer work with Wang Leehom.

By the weekend, the storm had not blown over at all, as Wang Leehom’s father released a handwritten letter to Taiwanese media in response to the issue. In his letter, Wang’s father defended his son’s reputation, denied any affairs, and alleged that Lee threatened Wang into marrying her in late 2013 after falling pregnant with their first child. At the time, Wang was 37 years old and Lee was a 27-year-old Columbia University graduate student.

Wang’s dad joined the drama.

In May of 2014, Wang announced that Lee Jinglei was five months pregnant and in July of that year, the two welcomed their first child.

Wang’s dad claims that he regrets approving of the marriage between his son and Lee, saying that he felt it was the right thing to do to at the time to protect Wang’s career and to ensure the wellbeing of the baby.

The hashtag “The Handwritten Letter by Wang Leehom’s Dad” (#王力宏父亲手写信#) received over 750 million views on Weibo on Sunday.

That same day, Lee Jinglei again posted a very long post in which she condemned the statement by her former father-in-law and denied all accusations that she forced Wang into marrying her. She also demanded a public apology and said she would be prepared to sue Wang and his dad for slander.

As if all of this wasn’t enough already, Wang posted another statement on Sunday night, just after 23:00, in which he shared his grievances about the endless problems and unhappiness during their marriage and apologized to his parents. That post received over 5 million likes just 90 minutes after it was posted, and nearly 400,000 comments.

Among the thousands of Weibo responses, many people say they see the divorce drama between Wang and Hong as one more reason not to get married themselves.

Many others condemn Wang and say he used Lee as a ‘breeding unit.’ The majority of people support Lee and also criticize Wang’s latest post, wondering if the blacklisted actress Zheng Shuang helped him write it.

There are also those who are shocked to see another favorite celebrity being ‘canceled’ as there have already been many people in China’s entertainment industry who have been canceled this year, including singer Kris Wu (arrested for rape charges), China’s ‘Piano Prince’ Li Yundi (prostitution case), and many more.

Some commenters also see a bright spot in all the drama, remarking that after all disagreements between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese netizens, “there’s finally one thing that the two sides of Strait can all agree about.”

Update: It seems like nobody on Weibo is sleeping tonight. On December 20th at 1:31 am, Lee posted another post responding to Wang’s latest statements. Within an hour of posting, that Weibo post also was reposted over 24,000 times and received over 640,000 likes. In this post, Lee debunks any allegations Wang made about her and their marriage, claiming she is the one to suffer mental abuse by him and also addressing other issues. 

 

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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Chinese Actor and State Security Ambassador Li Yifeng Detained for Soliciting Prostitutes

Li Yifeng is not exactly living up to his role as spokesperson for the Ministry of State Security.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese actor and singer Li Yifeng (李易峰) went top trending on Chinese social media today. The actor, who previously starred as brand ambassador for the Ministry of State Security and played Mao Zedong in The Pioneer, has been detained for visiting prostitutes.

On January 10 of 2021, China celebrated its very first National Police Day to give full recognition to the police and national security staff for their efforts. For this special day, the Ministry of State Security launched a promo video starring Chinese actor Li Yifeng as the National Police Ambassador (#李易峰国安形象传片#). But today, it turned out that Li might not have been the best man for the job.

Chinese official media reported on September 11 that the 35-year-old actor has been detained for soliciting prostitutes. The hashtag “Li Yifeng Detained for Visiting Prostitutes” (#李易峰多次嫖娼被行政拘留#) received nearly two billion views on Weibo on Sunday; the hashtag “Beijing Police Informs that Li Yifeng Solicited Prostitutes” (#北京警方通报李易峰多次嫖娼#) received a staggering three billion views.

Shortly after the news was announced, various brands for which Li served as a brand ambassador announced that they were no longer working with the actor. Lukfook Jewellery, Mengniu Dairy, Honma Golf, Panerai, Prada, Sensodyne, King To Nin Jiom, and other brands declared that they had terminated their contract with Li (#多个品牌终止与李易峰合作#).

Li rose to fame in 2007 when he participated in the Chinese My Hero talent show. He later debuted as a singer and became a successful actor, starring in various Chinese TV dramas and films. Li became especially popular after starring in Swords of Legends and won an award for his role in the 2015 Chinese crime film Mr. Six (老炮儿). He would go on to win many more awards. One of his biggest roles was starring as Mao Zedong in the 2021 blockbuster The Pioneer (革命者).

According to Global Times, Li was previously announced as one of the celebrities attending the Mid-Autumn Festival Gala on CCTV on Saturday night, but his name was later deleted from the program.

“I had never expected my idol to collapse like this,” some disappointed fans wrote on Weibo.

In a ‘super topic’ community dedicated to the star, some fans would not give up on their idol yet: “Where is the proof? Besides the Beijing police statement, where is the actual proof?”

On Li Yifeng’s Weibo page, where the actor has over 60 million fans, nothing has been posted since September 5.

The Huading Awards, a famous entertainment award in China, announced that they cancelled Li Yifeng’s title of “Best Actor in China” (#华鼎奖取消李易峰中国最佳男主角等称号#).

“He lost all he had overnight,” some commenters wrote. “Celebrities generally get cancelled for two things: one is evading taxes, the other is sleeping around,” one popular comment said: “So in a nutshell, pay your taxes and don’t sleep around.*”

“Why do you even need to see a prostitute when you’re so good-looking?” others wondered.

One Weibo user (@大漠叔叔) wrote: “Have a good head on your shoulders and just remember one thing. It does not matter how good your reputation is, or how many titles you have, how much the audience loves you, how much the fans embrace you, how many awards you get, it won’t protect you. Stay clear-headed, merit does not outweigh faults! You can’t cross the moral bottomline nor cross the boundaries of the law. You can be canceled just like that.”

By Manya Koetse 

* This comment is loosely translated here, but the Chinese is quite funny because the words ‘taxes’ and ‘sleeping’ sound similar. “明星塌房的两个主要原因:一个睡,一个税。 简而言之:该税的税,不该睡的别睡.”

 

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