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Kris Wu Scandal: Chinese State Media Wants to ‘Raise the Bar’ for Becoming a Celebrity

CCTV’s post on “Raising the Bar for Being a Star” received over 680 million views on Weibo.

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Pop star Kris Wu has dominated Chinese social media over the past few weeks, with news of his detainment over rape allegations leading to an explosion of comments on Weibo. The Kris Wu scandal has sparked an online debate over ‘raising the bar for becoming a star’ and the moral responsibilities of Chinese idols.

The Chinese-Canadian superstar Kris Wu, better known as Wu Yifan (吴亦凡) in China, has been a trending topic on Chinese social media ever since he was first accused of pressuring women into sex.

The 19-year-old student Meizhu Du (都美竹) was the first to accuse Wu of predatory behavior, with at least 24 more women coming forward claiming the celebrity showed inappropriate behavior and luring young women into sexual relationships.

Although Wu denied all allegations, more than a dozen firms either cut ties or terminated contracts with him. As the scandal unfolded, various hashtags related to the story received billions of views on Weibo.

When news of Kris Wu’s detainment came out on July 31st, Weibo’s servers barely seemed to be able to handle the spike in traffic, and comments came pouring in.

At an earlier stage of this social media storm, China’s state-owned media outlet CCTV sent out a Weibo post on July 20 that called for “raising the bar” to become a celebrity.

The CCTV statement argued that celebrities need to uphold their social responsibility and that they should be “a person first, and celebrity second.” It also said that the entertainment industry plays a role in this, as it “should urge celebrities to improve their moral standards through rigorous self-discipline.”

The post echoes the Standards of Conduct issued by the China Association of Performing Arts in February of this year, which contained a list of moral guidelines and rules of conduct for Chinese performers.

According to the document, which also attracted media attention at the time, a special “Ethics Building Committee” (道德建设委员会) was established to emphasize the enforcement.

“Self-disciplinary measures” for performers.

According to the guidelines, “performers who violate the regulations will face boycotts by member units within a certain period of time.” It also states that performers who fail to comply with the guidelines could face a permanent ban from their profession – such a boycott will usually come from the top.

China has a thriving celebrity culture and celebrities have an enormous influence on Chinese social media and popular culture. Channeling public opinion and safeguarding social stability are priorities for Chinese authorities, and the influence of Chinese celebrities is often used to promote Party ideology and policies.

While authorities encourage Chinese celebrities to act as positive role models, negative news surrounding the country’s most famous stars is often perceived as having a “negative social impact” or a “bad influence on public morale.”

When Chinese actress Fan Bingbing was caught up in a tax evasion scandal, she was labeled as “not socially responsible.” After the dramatic and dirty divorce of Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong topped all trending lists, China’s media watchdog announced it would guard against the hyping of these kinds of scandals due to their supposedly harmful impact.

These previous examples, the recent call by CCTV, and this year’s regulations for the performance industry demonstrate China’s determination to “promote a healthy entertainment environment” and to encourage the idea that Chinese artists should be “role models” who abide by the rules of “social morality.”

Since Kris Wu made his debut in 2012 as one of the members of EXO, his road to stardom over the past nine years overlapped the “internet age” (流量元年) in China. The blooming of digital media has changed the traditional Chinese entertainment landscape. With access to a huge population of fans and fast-growing social media, a strong public relations team can essentially guarantee public appearances and a stable flow of money. The rapid development of reality shows has also brought out seemingly endless opportunities for artists to become famous.

However, as the saying goes, “heavy is the head who wears the crown,” – most Chinese netizens seem to agree with the idea that society should set higher expectations for celebrities. The post by CCTV soon attracted over 5,3 million likes and nearly 180,000 comments.

“Public figures should take responsibility for their behavior. Once they break the rules, they will be criticized by society and the mainstream media. At the end of the day, the public will imitate the idols (and their behavior),” one Weibo user wrote.

After the recent surrogacy scandal of Chinese actress Zheng Shuang, Wu’s case has once again renewed discussions over the moral standards of celebrities. More and more people have started to question what makes someone qualified to be an idol and whether the bar for becoming a celebrity is set too low.

“The law is only the minimum standard for people’s code of conduct, the goal shouldn’t be just to obey the law, right?” one of the top-rated commenters wrote on Weibo. Others also argued that “the bar for becoming an idol is simply set too low!”

“The entertainment industry has become a place to shelter evil people, it’s rotten to the core. I don’t like any of it,” another commenter wrote, with someone adding: “Their standards are too low and they make money too fast.”

By August 2nd, the hashtag “Raise the Bar For Becoming a Star” (#把做明星的门槛提上来#) had received over 680 million views on Weibo.

In light of China’s enormous celebrity culture, online discussions over whether celebrities should hold themselves to a higher moral standard will undoubtedly continue. Despite the many online disagreements regarding the Kris Wu case, most netizens seem to agree that there should be more to Chinese celebrities than fame, money, and the latest scandal.

By Yunyi Wang 

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China Celebs

Weibo Shuts Down Rumors of Tong Liya’s Alleged Marriage to CMG President Shen Haixiong

The censorship surrounding the Tong Liya story almost drew more attention than the actual rumors themselves.

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The famous actress and dancer Tong Liya (佟丽娅, 1983) has had an eventful year. After hosting the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2020, she performed at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in February of 2021 and in May she announced that after seven years of marriage, she finalized her divorce with actor and director Chen Sicheng (陈思诚).

Tong Liya is of Xibe ethnicity and was born in Xinjiang. The former beauty pageant and award-winning actress is known for her roles in many films and TV series, such as those in The Queens and Beijing Love Story. She also starred in the 2021 Chinese historical film 1921, which focuses on the founding of the Communist Party of China.

This month, online rumors about Tong flooded the internet, alleging that she was recently remarried to Shen Haixiong (慎海雄, 1967), the deputy minister of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the President of the CMG (China Media Group), which includes CCTV, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Some of the rumors included those claiming the actress was previously Shen’s mistress, or netizens connecting Tong Liya’s relations with such an influential and powerful person to her role at the previous CCTV Spring Gala Festival.

But these rumors did not stay online for long, and the quick censorship itself became somewhat of a spectacle. As reported by China Digital Times, the topic ‘Tong Liya’s Remarriage’ (‘佟丽娅再婚’) was completely taken offline.

Following the rumors and censorship, it first was announced that Tong reported the online rumors about her to the police, with the hashtag “Tong Liya Reports the Case to Authorities” (#佟丽娅报案#) receiving over 310 million clicks. On December 23rd, the hashtag “Beijing Police is Handling Tong Liya’s Report” (#北京警方受理佟丽娅报案#) went viral online, attracting over 1.7 billion (!) views on Weibo within three days.

The Beijing Haidian police statement on Weibo is as follows:

In response to the recent rumors on the Internet, the public security authorities have accepted Tong Liya’s report, and the case is now under investigation. The internet is not a place beyond the law, and illegal acts such as starting rumors and provoking trouble will be investigated and punished according to the law.”

The statement led to some confused responses among netizens who wanted to know more about what was actually reported and what it is the police are exactly ‘investigating.’

On Twitter, Vice reporter Viola Zhou wrote that the censorship “angered many young people,” some of whom lost their social media accounts for discussing Tong Liya’s second marriage: “It’s now prompting a mass pushback against the potential abuse of censorship power.”

In an attempt to circumvent censorship, and perhaps also ridicule it, some netizens even resorted to morse code to write about Tong Liya.

One Weibo post about the issue by Legal Daily received over 3000 comments, yet none were displayed at the time of writing.

The case is allegedly still being investigated by Beijing authorities.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

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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’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

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.

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