When China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to fight corruption, he probably meant it. Once powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang is now under investigation after it has been revealed that when Zhou was in charge, his department spent more money than the military.
Conspiracy theorists speculate that Xi is just trying to get rid of a very unpopular figure to boost his own popularity. Meanwhile, another investigation is going on. This time, it involves a very popular Chinese internet star who can’t be more different than Zhou. Before I introduce her, let me tell a little story about an organisation she claimed to work for.
Some years ago when I was working at Lucky Plaza, my landlord put up a signboard bearing a red cross to indicate where the medical centre was. They were immediately asked to take it down. The reason given was that people may mistake the medical centre as one run by the Red Cross! So typically Singaporean.
Well, it seems that only the Red Cross has the right to use the red cross and they’re probably afraid that their reputation may be tarnished if the sign can be used by just anybody. Interestingly, China’s internet star Guo Meimei (not to be confused with HK singer Jocie Kwok) associated herself with the Red Cross in China, claiming to be the organisation’s general manager.
Coming from a single-parent family, Guo Mei Mei’s father was imprisoned for fraud when she was still a baby. Her mother’s sister has also been incarcerated for pimping and an uncle of hers has been executed for drug offences. Her mother operated shady massage parlours in Shenzhen and amassed considerable wealth when Guo reached adulthood. From a young age of 20, Guo Mei Mei (real name: Guo Meiling 郭美玲) shot to fame on the internet when she flaunted her wealth and distinguished family background on social media.
Like many female “lifestyle bloggers”, she irked some netizens by bragging about her background, the elite schools she went to and showing off her Lamborghini, Maserati, luxury bags and clothes. She even called herself “princess”. While some of her detractors were probably just jealous, others raised questions about Guo Mei Mei’s source of wealth. They also raised concerns that Red Cross donations might have been misused. The more netizens chided her outrageous online behaviour, the more attention she drew. Like ants to honey, advertisers and sugar daddies flocked to her.
Donations to the Red Cross quickly plummeted, prompting the organisation to publicly declare that Guo Mei Mei was no employee of theirs. In response, Guo Mei Mei clarified that she didn’t work for the Red Cross but a company with a similar name. Regardless, the damage to Red Cross’ reputation has been done.
This being the age of the citizen journalist, Guo Mei Mei’s former schools were soon identified. Not only did she not attend elite schools, she often played truant and didn’t even turn up for her examinations. A former teacher testified that she was timid and often bullied.
Worse, a highly resourceful netizen found out that the Shenzhen-registered yellow Lamborghini Guo Mei Mei was photographed in belongs to a man by the name of Wang Jun. It was not known who Wang Jun is, but there happens to be a Deputy Minister of Finance by the name of Wang Jun. As if that weren’t telling enough, this Wang Jun is also the Chairman of China’s Red Cross Society! I guess it won’t take long before Xi Jinping orders an investigation but interestingly, many online discussions and microblog postings on Guo Mei Mei had mysteriously disappeared.
Like many female “lifestyle bloggers”, Guo Mei Mei also flaunted her beauty and her figure. Many netizens suspected that her pictures have been cleverly photoshopped, but it was soon revealed that she had spent a bomb on plastic surgery after an employee at her plastic surgeon’s office leaked her photos taken before and after surgery.
When Guo Mei Mei finally appeared in public and was photographed by reporters, the rather unflattering pictures confirmed that the pictures she showed online were all heavily edited and she was going all out to fool everyone. Undeterred, she announced her intention to enter the entertainment line. Her detractors investigated and revealed that no film or recording company would pay her to perform. Below is her self-funded MV.
Yes, it’s harder to fool people with videos than with photos. And with a voice like that, it’s no wonder that nobody in the entertainment industry would finance her. Apart from this, Guo Mei Mei also shot an audacious self-promoting documentary entitled “I’m Guo Mei Mei”. She unabashedly opined that there is no such thing as bad publicity. But to any astute netizen, Guo’s rise to fame/infamy was carefully planned and orchestrated. An average girl like Guo Mei Mei couldn’t have been able to earn so much as a blogger and have the means to engineer this whole scheme. Who could the person behind all this be?
Guo Mei Mei was finally arrested last month, not for impersonating a Red Cross employee but on charges of operating a gambling racket. So what’s the source of her staggering income? She admitted to prostituting herself, but then again, that might not be true as she could be shielding her sole sponsor. The truth may be a little too awkward for the Chinese government to handle. Will this saga draw our attention away from Zhou Yongkang, or are the authorities digging up a bigger scandal in what seems like a frivolous, sweetly distracting case?
© Chan Joon Yee