Zhang Ziyi attends an awards ceremony in Haikou on Wednesday. (Photo/CFP)
Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi flew to Hong Kong before making a public appearance in Haikou in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Wednesday in what is being seen as a high-profile move to dismiss reports that she has been forbidden to leave the country amid claims of intimate relations with disgraced politician Bo Xilai, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.
The 33-year-old actress, smiling as she wore a golden dress, attended the 12th Chinese Film Media Awards and received a prize from the organizer attributing for her contribution to improving the profile of Chinese movies around the world.
Hong Kong-based newspaper Apple Daily the previous day had cited a report by the US-based citizen journalism website Boxun News, which alleged that Zhang slept with Bo Xilai, the dismissed party chief of Chongqing, more than 10 times in return for money between 2007 and 2011 and also obtained 700 million yuan (US$110 million) from having sex with other senior officials over the past ten years. Zhang has been forbidden to leave mainland China as she undergoes investigation into the Bo's case, the report claimed. Bo was dismissed as party chief of the southwest municipality in March and was stripped of his remaining senior party posts in April as he undergoes investigation into "serious discipline violations." His wife Gu Kailai has been arrested charged with the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, which Bo allegedly attempted to cover up.
Zhang's PR team strongly denounced the reports on Tuesday and vowed to take legal action against Apple Daily for repeating the online claims. The actress did not say however whether she will take action against Boxun News, a website that is sourced mostly by anonymous users and frequently makes claims that are difficult to prove.
Zhang, known for her starring roles in Chinese-language films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, posted an entry on her personal Sina Weibo microblog before her public appearance on Wednesday afternoon to thank her fans for their support. "I have nothing but sincere gratitude to pay back. I do everything with principle, while everybody shows great affection to me. The law stands by me. I have discussed the issue with my attorney in Hong Kong this morning to protect my rights. The flight just landed in Haikou. Who is going to eat durian at the movie banquet later this evening? They will provide enough for eat!" she wrote in the lofty style of classical Chinese, implying she does not feel affected by the reports is able to freely cross the border between the mainland and Hong Kong, proving that an earlier suggestion by internet that her movement has been restricted had been fabricated.
A Twitter user going by the name Damien Ma posted a picture on Wednesday afternoon, claiming Zhang appeared at customs at Hong Kong airport, which was then forwarded by Zhang's Weibo, confirming its authenticity. "Who says I cannot leave the country? Nonsense!" Zhang added.
As the actress launched her counterattack against the claims made by Boxun, the website stood by its claim that Zhang underwent investigation a month and a half ago and was forbidden to leave the country, though this order may have been lifted by help from her connections. Boxun said the key point is not whether the actress is able to leave the mainland, but if she was an acquaintance of Xu Ming, president of the conglomerate Dalian Shide in China's northeast who has been detained due to his close ties to Bo and reportedly arranged for Bo and Zhang to have sex for money. Xu also slept with Zhang on several occasions, for which he too paid close to US$1 million, Boxun said.
The claims about Zhang were confirmed by different sources, Boxun insisted on Wednesday after the actress furiously denounced the rumors.
Ji Lingling, Zhang's manager, said some internet users forwarded the reports by Apple Daily on Sina Weibo and other websites, which have damaged her image. Her PR team has collected evidence on the internet and reported the case to the public security department.
Zhang Ziyi 章子怡
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Xu Ming 徐明
Dalian Shide 大連實德
Ji Lingling 紀靈靈