Paris of the East

Sex tape ensnares model

Zhai: known as the ‘Little Beast’

China is having a Paris Hilton moment.

An online sex video featuring a famous Chinese model named Shou Shou has riveted the nation for months now, much as Hilton’s notorious clip seized worldwide attention when it got onto the internet several years ago.

The eight-minute video, which hit the internet in January, reportedly feature Shou Shou – whose real name is Zhai Ling – in bed with a young man. Since then, the sexually explicit video has dominated headlines and gossip circles, attracting thousands of downloads on video-sharing sites.

It is not clear how the racy video made it online, but rumour has it that it was posted by Zhai’s disgruntled ex-boyfriend Yang Di, who is widely believed to be the man in the clip.

No matter. Most of the public’s wrath is directed at Zhai anyway. Netizens criticised the Chinese model for her moral standards and expressed concern that Zhai will become a bad example for China’s impressionable teenagers. There were also accusations that she was a flagrant self-publicist and the sex video was a means to promote her acting career. Some even cited Zhai’s apparent lack of remorse as evidence.

Indeed, like the American heiress, Zhai’s newfound notoriety has translated to a career boost for the 23 year-old. She admitted to the China Daily this week that she had received several offers from film directors after the scandal. She also said she got many calls and messages from agencies promising to turn her into a superstar.

But Zhai denies that the sex scandal was a self-promotion tactic.

“I believe there is not a woman in the world who would truly like to ruin her life-long reputation for commercial exploitation,” she says. She added that she wants her case to be a lesson for all women: “I was stupid and trusted a man too much.”

Zhai first came into the public eye in 2006 when she took second place in the China Underwear Model Final Competition. She soon became a regular at major car shows. Nicknamed Shou Shou (which oddly translates as “the little beast”), she was voted by netizens as “China’s number 1 car model” in 2008.

But those curious to watch Shou Shou in action may be out of luck. The video was so popular that street-smart hackers have flooded the internet with clips embedded with software viruses. When activated, these enable attackers to install malicious programs on unsuspecting users’ computers (see WiC49). Already, Xinhua reports that more than 100,000 machines have been hijacked as a result of downloading the video.

“Hackers want to enlarge the impact of their virus to get more profits, so they choose the hot issues to package their viruses,“ says Tang Wei, an anti-virus engineer with Beijing Rising International Software. “Because other videos didn’t get as much attention as Zhai’s, the viruses did not spread as quickly.”

So it seems like Beijing has found an unlikely ally in its effort to crackdown on pornographic material on the internet. The news about the computer viruses has discouraged many people from downloading the clip.

An internet user surnamed Zhang said he went looking for Shou Shou’s clip on video sharing websites but all the links were blocked by government authorities. Then his friend offered to email him the link but he decided against downloading the material after learning about the risks.

“It’s not worth downloading a video with a virus that will infect my computer,” says Zhang.


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