When Chinese netizens first learned of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s decision to divorce his Shandong-born wife Wendi Deng the subject went straight to the top of Sina Weibo’s hot topic list. It quickly became one of the most searched terms on Baidu while newspapers across the country were soon writing commentaries about the split.
“For Wendi Deng this is indeed deserved,” was one rather forthright opinion on the China Youth Daily website. Another, from the Beijing News, preferred to call Murdoch “Machiavellian” – presumably in reference to the stealth with which the break-up was managed.
The pair met in Hong Kong and have been married since 1999. Butthey haven’t always been a source of fascination for Chinese. Neither had a particularly high profile in China until the phone hacking scandal in Britain two years ago. The Chinese state press then seized on the affair as proof that the Western media was morally corrupt. But Deng emerged with her reputation enhanced because of an incident at Britain’s parliament in which she jumped to her husband’s defence when he was attacked with a foam pie. The TV footage got a lot of views on China’s internet, with netizens marvelling at Deng’s rapid reflexes, as well as her ferociousness in slapping back at the male assailant.
“I like this woman,” wrote one weibo user at the time.
“I used to think she was a gold-digger but after all this time it seems like this couple actually has love,” wrote another .
But by Friday much of those fuzzier sentiments seemed to be gone. “An extremely scheming woman,” warned one weibo critic. “In the eyes of the world, she’s just like a mistress,” wrote the China Youth Daily (a reference to the two marriages she broke up).
At best there was a grudging respect about what Deng has achieved in life. “Everyone has their own perspective, but I like her willingness to do, to be, and to assume,” wrote one.
“At least she had the sense to do this in America,” said another. “Sleep with a powerful man here and you are guaranteed nothing apart from being the centre of a scandal.”
Many netizens seem to accept as fact that Deng will receive at least $1 billion in the divorce settlement even though no details have emerged.
All that, of course, led netizens to wonder what the 44 year-old might do next, now that she will no longer be married to the 82 year-old mogul.
Several quipped that after marrying the world’s most powerful media tycoon, only the White House would be good enough. “Michelle Obama should be worried,” joked one weibo user. “She doesn’t know what she is up against.”
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