Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has sued Hong Kong’s leading newspaper the Apple Daily and its sister weekly Next Magazine over stories alleging she was paid 700 million yuan ($110 million) over 10 years to have sex with former Politburo member Bo Xilai and other wealthy individuals.
The “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star signed the suit presented to the Hong Kong High Court on Monday. The case is Zhang Ziyi and Apple Daily Ltd., Cheung Kim- hung, Next Magazine Publishing Ltd., Li Chi-ho, HCA1002/2012 in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance.
The stories “are seriously defamatory of and concerning the plaintiff and are false,” the lawsuit said. The actress is seeking unspecified libel damages.
This was not the first time that Zhang Ziyi was at the center of a controversy. In early 2010, she was accused of embezzling the donation of over $400,000 she had collected at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 21, 2008 for the Wenchuan earthquake relief efforts.
Others pointed out that she had exaggerated her personal donation to the relief efforts as well, overstating the amount she sent to the China Red Cross Foundation by 160,000 yuan, or approximately $20,000.
These controversies had raised doubt about Zhang’s honesty and integrity. But Zhang quickly recovered by sending in 160,000 yuan to the Red Cross, and by donating over $400,000 to help build the Deyang Children’s Center in May 2010.
Zhang’s troubles are perfect examples of how difficult it is to be a celebrity in China. As Chinese proverbs says: wind will blow down the tallest tree in a forest. Zhang probably understands this better than most people.
But this most recent controversy seems to be a little more ferocious than the ones that she has had to face in the past. One has to wonder if these articles that suggested sex for money between Zhang and Bo might be part of a campaign to further tarnish Bo’s reputation. But as with most things involving people from the top echelon of the Chinese leadership, the truth may never come out.
As for Zhang Ziyi, she will probably weather this storm just like she has in the past. She has shown remarkable resilience over the years, and will likely continue to enjoy a successful acting career in China.