Celebrities usually have tremendous influence on people all around the world. They are excellent performers on stage whose appearances exert appeals to audiences or their beautiful voices can resonate with a wide range of listeners. Many celebrities tend to extend their influence far beyond cosmetic products they use or an outfit they wear on stage. They use their popularity and fame as an influential tool to advance their personal opinion or agenda. But when celebrities use it to defend or try to exonerate wrongdoings of a family member, they must tread carefully and be aware that it is a double edged sword.
Wanting Qu, a Chinese platinum selling pop star singer living in Vancouver recently spoke out about the political ordeal of her mother, Zhang Mingjie, as she has been detained by the Chinese authorities. Zhang, a former municipal politician in Harbin, is now facing charges ranging from corruption to taking bribes. A scheduled trial will soon be underway.
According to Qu, Ms. Zhang was barred from seeing lawyers for 210 days, and has since complained of sleep deprivation and poor access to medicine. “There were a few times she said, ‘I can’t handle this anymore,’” said Qu.
However, Qu’s effort to help out her mother could also put Zhang’s wrongdoings under increased scrutiny. If she tries to use her influence to advance her personal agenda, it may not work in her favor or even turn ugly for her.
According to reports from Chinese media, since 2000, when Qu left for Canada, she has attended a series of schools in Vancouver on her family’s financial support. But the annual salary baseline for Zhang’s seniority level as a government official was at only about $1400 a month after taxes, leading to skepticism of how Zhang, a single mother could possibly afford her daughter’s tuition and living expenses of over $10,000 per year.
Qu has been adamant that the money wasn’t obtained by illicit means but came from family and friends. “My mom – she finds her ways. She borrows money from friends and family to support me,” Ms. Qu told the Globe, and recalled that her mother said back then: “I’m not doing any of that, don’t worry,” referring to Chinese president XI Jinping’s campaign against corruption.
Undoubtedly, Qu has provided an extremely weak explanation for the source of the money that supported her studies in Canada that can hardly convince anyone – from Chinese authorities to the public opinions. In fact, her explanation is one of the oldest tricks in the book and are no different than the excuses of thousands of other political elites in China – who use their power and status to advance their own interest or to make ill-gotten gains.
According to the report, under Zhang’s watch, a property for a farm redevelopment project was eventually sold at a fraction of its value, after changing hands several times, to a company where Ms. Zhang’s brother works as a deputy general manager. This prompted an investigation into Zhang’s affairs by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption bureau.
Worse yet, Qu’s statements may undermine public sympathy she intends to elicit, and put her mother under increased scrutiny over the alleged wrongdoings.
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