Wen Jiabao’s family wealth and Ningbo NIMBY protest are so yesterday, the hottest topic that everybody is talking about on the Chinese Internet now is the love affair of Wang Shi, a God father figure in China’s real estate industry.
The 61-year-old real estate tycoon was rumored to have divorced his wife of over 40 years and fell in love with a 31-year-old actress Tian Pujun. The story won’t storm the Chinese Internet if Wang hasn’t been such a legendary figure. The PLA (People Liberation Army) veteran now owns China Vanke, the largest real estate company in China. He sees life as an adventure and surely lives his life as one. He is the oldest man in China who ever topped the Himalayas. He left his role as Vanke Chairman in 2011 to study at Harvard. His new actress girlfriend was said to accompany him in the US.
Wand and Tian on a flight to Shenzhen
Rumor has it that the two first met each other when both were having classes at the EMBA program at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, a popular b-school among China’s most rich funded by the Lu Ka Shing Foundation. Many netizens have joked that the best way for young and ambitious second-wife-wannabes to find a sugar daddy is to attend China’s EMBA programs. Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business suddenly becomes the THE school to go to if any woman wants to marry rich. Of course, there are also netizens who speculated that Wang’s news was used by media to distract people’s attention from Premier Wen Jiabao’s recently exposed family wealth.
Besides jokes and speculations, one thing is for sure. Wang’s love affair leads to a comeback of discussions on the culture of “little third” (“小三” in Chinese, literally means the third person in a relationship.) Wang’s love affair with actress Tian Pujun is seen as an example of how a “little third” has successfully worked her way from a “second wife” to the “first lady.”
China has a long history of concubines. The number of wives a man has signifies his success and social status. Little has changes in modern China. China’s double-digit development in the past 30 years have given rise to generations of wealthy and powerful men, who in turn, collect mistresses as their badges.
These mistresses may be a destructive force to families, but they oftentimes play key roles in China’s development, both politically and economically.
Mistresses and men with mistresses are the major luxury buyers in China
China is growing into the world’s second largest luxury market. Chinese tourists flooded luxury shops in the US and Europe despite a slowing economy at home. Rich Chinese have contributed to the rising housing prices in California and Canada….similar news go on and on. Admit it or not, behind all this is a booming “mistress economy” in China. Not that mistresses are the sole reason of China’s rapidly increasing luxury market, but that they are an undeniable driving force.
In a report, HSBC said that performance of luxury goods companies in China may be impacted by a waning trend of wealthy men taking mistresses. Hong Huang, famous socialite, publisher and fashion insider, wrote an article titled “Little Third Weekly” on the Chinese version of New York Times. In the article, she proposed to publish a fashion magazine specially targeted at mistresses. She wrote: “Little Third, what an important group of fashion followers in China. If a fashion magazine cannot win over the little third, it will hardly have any readers in China at all. However, not one single fashion magazine would openly admit that its main target audience is the little third group. Similarly, without the buying power of little third, China’s luxury market will never become world’s top, and nor can it enjoy any double-digit growth.” She maybe being sarcastic in the article, but nevertheless telling a truth.
Mistresses are at the frontline of anti-corruption battles.
One of the accusations of Bo Xilai, China’s disgraced politician, is the he “had or maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women.” And Bo isn’t the first Chinese official who has been accused of having women issue.
An article, Aljazeera pulled up a list of some of the more recent cases: “
- The government last month jailed former railway minister Liu Zhijun for accepting kickbacks on purchase deals. Somehow, a directive sent to newspapers by the Party’s Central Propaganda Bureau was leaked. It said: “All media are not to report or hype the news that Liu Zhijun had 18 mistresses.”
- Liu Zhihua, former vice mayor of Beijing, was accused of taking bribes worth $1.1m during the construction of stadiums and facilities for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. His mistress Wang Jianrui acted as conduit for channeling nearly 80 per cent of the bribes.
- A senior navy officer was sentenced to death some years back after one of his mistresses, who bore him a baby, exposed his corrupt practices. Jiang, the mistress, wrote 58 letters to higher officials exposing the misdeeds of Wang Shouye, former Deputy Commander of the Chinese Navy, after he refused to pay the mother of his child support money. Wang later got a reprieve from execution from the court after he confessed his crimes and offered to help investigators with their work.
- Wang Jiping, the former director of the Beijing local taxation bureau, was exposed after the mistresses of his deputy passed on information of wrongdoings by both Wang and a subordinate.
- Xu Maiyong, the former vice mayor of the capital of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, was executed for bribery and embezzlement worth more than $30m. The local media nicknamed him “Plenty Xu”, saying he kept several mistresses.
Keeping mistresses hasn’t only been used as a crime against falling officials, the sometimes stupid behaviors of mistresses also serve as the key clue to track down corrupted officials. For example, the infamous Gou Meimei who showed off her extravagant lifestyle online and almost entirely ruined the reputation of China Red Cross is later found to be the mistress of a high-ranking official at China Red Cross. In other story on Offbeat China, a young model showed off her birthday party online carelessly told everybody that her sugar daddy is a corrupted delegate of China’s National People’s Congress.