Paying the price

Financial pain as celebrity love lives unravel on social media


Messy break-up for Show Lo

In this day and age, is a relationship real if it’s not being flaunted on Instagram?

In China, no break-up is official unless you post news of it on Sina Weibo, it seems.

Last week, online influencer Zhou Yangqing penned an explosive post on her personal weibo explaining that she had broken up with her boyfriend of nine-years, pop idol Show Lo.

Lo got his start in a boy band when he was just 17. After a successful singing career, paired with a talent for comedy, the Taiwanese became a host for the variety show series 100% Entertainment. In 2013, he was the highest earning male celebrity in Taiwan and more recently he’s been a mentor on talent competitions in mainland China such as Produce 101 (2018), Street Dance of China (2019), and Produce Camp 2020, which is still filming.

Zhou is a fashion influencer from Beijing, operating a virtual storefront on Taobao. The two started dating in 2011, when eagle-eyed netizens spotted them wearing matching outfits. Lo, who is private about his love life, finally admitted the match in 2015.

Zhou, nicknamed “Little Angelababy” for her resemblance to the actress-model Yang Ying, won over netizens when she admitted that she’d gone under the knife to achieve her doll-like appearance. But last week she published a lengthy weibo post saying that she and Lo had separated in March. She also accused him of cheating on her many times.

“The break-up began when I looked through your mobile phone,” Zhou wrote. “You told me more than once that the most important thing for two people who are together is mutual trust, and looking at each other’s mobile phones will break that trust… But this time, for some reason, I scrolled through it, and I am glad I did so.”

Zhou signed off by saying that she only made the split public because she wanted to warn other women of his philandering ways. “Ladies, don’t believe you are the person who can change him. Because for some people, being a jerk is something that they are born with,” she warned.

Netizens were soon voicing their support. “This scumbag needs to be exposed without mercy. Otherwise the next innocent girl he encounters will have the same outcome,” one wrote.

Others found humour in the scandal: Lo was applauded as an “expert in time management”, given his extensive schedule of liaisons, undertaken behind his girlfriend’s back – while some netizens even joked that he teach techniques on multi-tasking.

(Longtime readers may recall a similar reaction in 2009 when it emerged that Zhang Erjiang, former mayor of Danjiangkou and Tianmen, had conducted extramarital affairs with 107 women. In jail Zhang then wrote a book about Chinese general Sun Tzu, which led a blogger to comment: “If he can deal with that many women, he should be an expert on Sun Tzu, as both would require exceptional strategy and tactics.”)

In damage control mode, Lo published an apology on his own weibo account the following day: “What I did was wrong and I will self-examine. I made a lot of mistakes and I also want to apologise to all the women who have been deceived and disrespected by me,” he wrote.

The financial costs of publicly exposed infidelity can be enormous. When actor Wu Xiubo was revealed to be cheating on his wife his film production studio delayed the release of films that he was involved with, resulting in a drop of more than Rmb1 billion in the company’s stockmarket value.

“The larger the celebrity halo, the more the wealth; but on the flip side, the higher the cost of being caught cheating,” 36Kr reckons.

Alibaba’s Jiang Fan, too, is also bearing the costs of reputational scandal, after his wife took to weibo to lash out at Zhang Dayi, a top e-commerce fashion influencer.

In her social media swipe she warned Zhang, 32, to stay away from her husband, a top executive in charge of the Tmall and Taobao e-commerce units.

“This is the first and last time I’m warning you: come and tease my husband again and I won’t be restrained any longer, this woman is not easy to fight with,” she promised.

Taobao owns an 8.56% stake in Ruhnn, the influencer incubator Zhang co-founded (see WiC448).

After news of the scandal reached the general public, Alibaba removed the 35 year-old executive from its partners committee. It also voided his latest bonus and lowered his rank from senior vice-president.

In a company memo, the e-commerce giant said an internal investigation had discovered that Jiang “improperly handled his family problems, triggering a serious public relations crisis which harmed the company’s reputation”.

Lo is also awaiting news of his own fate, commercially-speaking. Plenty of female fans have been sounding their disapproval, saying that they will boycott his reality TV shows if the producers don’t fire him immediately. Lo is also a brand ambassador for Casio’s G-Shock, Mengniu’s yogurt drink and mobile game AFK Arena, to name just a few of his endorsement contracts. Mengniu has quietly taken down mentions of him on their social media campaigns since the scandal came to light.

Zhou seems to be doing better out of the brouhaha, reporting a spike in traffic on her Taobao storefront since the separation was announced. With netizens flocking to her fashion store to support her after the split, she made Rmb4.5 million in new sales in just three days.

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