Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
'Bo prostitute' lies made public hate me, says Zhang
Film star Zhang Ziyi (pictured) says defamatory reports claiming she had sex with disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai for money, made her the object of hatred, contempt and ridicule, according to a writ filed in the High Court.
The writ seeks to stop Apple Daily and its sister publication Next Magazine from repeating their claims that she has made 700 million yuan (HK$850 million) in the past 10 years by prostituting herself to influential figures on the mainland.
Zhang, 33, says in court documents made public yesterday that the publications, part of the Next Media Group, had repeated 'inherently unreliable' information from articles published at Boxun.com, a website blocked on the mainland.
The Beijing-born actress, who achieved worldwide fame with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, says the claims came from anonymous sources and the publications had failed to check if they were true or not.
The website is run by overseas Chinese in the US and is a form of citizen journalism, the writ adds.
'[The words] are seriously defamatory ... and false. [Zhang's] reputation has been seriously injured and she has suffered immense grievance and distress,' it says.
'[Zhang] has also been subjected to public odium, hatred, contempt or ridicule. [Her] public image has also been seriously and continuously undermined, which has caused and will continue to cause loss and damage to her profession and career.'
The reports claimed Zhang began sleeping with Bo in 2007, under an arrangement made by Xu Ming, a Dalian-based tycoon and one of Bo's allies. They said the relationship lasted until last year. Zhang was further accused of making money from sleeping with other senior mainland officials and businessmen.
Included in the court documents is a four-page list detailing the awards won by Zhang since 1999 to illustrate the damage the defamatory articles have had on her reputation.
Zhang asks the court to order Apply Daily, Next Magazine and their respective editors-in-chief, Cheung Kim-hung and Li Chi-ho, to pay punitive compensation and legal costs.
She accused them of a 'calculated and concerted effort' to defame her to maximise the explosiveness of the defamation for 'mercenary' benefits. The first report was published on May 29 in Apple Daily, and also went out on a mobile-phone version and as a video. Another report was published on May 31 in Next Magazine.
The articles were republished by newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world, including The New Yorker, Huffpost Celebrity and The Irish Times.
Bo was removed from his position in Chongqing in March. His wife, Gu Kailai has been arrested over the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.