World of Weibo

Faye Wong

How her love life fascinates millions in China

From the moment Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor set eyes on each other on the set of Cleopatra in 1962, they were infatuated. The two fell in love quickly and furiously. But as difficult as it was to live apart, they couldn’t live together either. The couple were married and divorced twice.

Still, for Taylor, Burton remained her true love: “I was a fool to marry so often (she had six other ex-husbands),” she told the Telegraph. “If I had my time over again, I would never do that. The truth is I now don’t give a damn about most of those men. Richard is the only one I truly loved and still care about.”

Like Burton and Taylor, China’s Faye Wong, 45, and Nicholas Tse, 34, can’t seem to stay away from each other for long. Ten years after the two first broke up they are rumoured to have rekindled their relationship.

After their first split, Tse went on to marry Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung in 2006 and have two sons, but they divorced in 2011. Wong, too, married the actor Li Yapeng in 2005. But they got divorced last year too (it was her second split with a husband).

News that Wong and Tse could be rekindling their romance became a red hot topic on China’s blogosphere, surpassing news about Alibaba’s mega-IPO, tennis star Li Na’s retirement, and Scotland’s referendum. As of this week, there were 450 million tweets and reposts about the rumoured relationship on Sina Weibo.

Netizens were split in their views about the couple. Some were supportive of the relationship. Others blasted their chaotic love lives, claiming the two were showing little consideration for their children. Some voiced strong disapproval of Wong, saying that a mother of two romancing a man more than a decade younger is irresponsible and selfish.

“It’s such a mess. Why didn’t they marry each other in the beginning?” asked one netizen.

Other netizens expressed sympathy for their former spouses, saying that Tse shouldn’t abandon his ex-wife Cheung. “You rejected a perfectly good wife and two beautiful children to be with a woman who is not only 11 years older but has married twice previously and has two children of her own. This is nauseating. Two people who are so irresponsible certainly deserve each other,” she lambasted.

Amid the growing criticism, some returned to the fray to defend the couple. “Both of them are single, so what’s wrong with them getting back together?” one fan wrote.

“Instead of criticising Wong Faye I actually admire here more and more. More than 10 years ago, she didn’t care what people thought and held the hand of a man who was only 23. Today, she still doesn’t care what other people think… She’s always so honest and true to herself,” was another verdict.

More perceptive netizens said that the negative comments about Wong have a subtext – they are another example of China’s cultural stereotyping of women, in this case a belief that stretches back through the centuries that an older woman should not marry a younger spouse.

“All the criticisms against Faye Wong mostly surround the fact that she was married and divorced twice, a mother of two yet dating a man who is 11 years younger. This suggests that women in China are still being typecast for two roles: wife and mother. But people are oblivious of women’s wish for self-improvement and their pursuit for love,” one netizen mused.

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