Gong Li still a no-show on avenue

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am


She was inducted in 2007 but four years on, pioneering mainland-turned-Singaporean actress Gong Li remains absent from the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The 45-year-old Raise the Red Lantern star's continuing no-show on the waterfront tribute promenade has sparked rumours and criticism that it could be a symptom of Beijing's perceived annoyance that she switched citizenship.

Li - who was born in Shenyang , Liaoning province - became a Singapore citizen in 2008. The actress married Lion City tycoon Ooi Hoe Soeng in 1996.

Mainland internet users voiced fury at her decision. Commenting in a chat forum on popular portal Sohu. com, one said: 'All traitors will be nailed to history's mast of shame. We should resolutely reject any further contact with such people.'

Another said: 'Traitors like this don't even love their own country. These people were only fake countrymen of ours. Let them slink off to other countries and die.'

Speculation that political sensibilities are behind the no-show was raised in Hong Kong magazines and newspapers in recent weeks.

However, the real reason, according to the company which manages the Avenue of Stars, which opened in 2004 and is modelled on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, is much more mundane.

'It is simply a matter of timing as Gong Li has not been able to get her hand imprinting done so far,' Avenue of Stars executive manager Becky Chan Yuen-yee said. 'It is absolutely nothing to do with her citizenship.'

'Because of this, her plaque has never appeared on the avenue. Grace Chang also has no plaque for the same reason. The Hong Kong Film Awards Association has been helping with the co-ordination of the hand imprinting, and once arranged, we shall have both their plaques on the avenue.'

Li's agent, David Unger of International Creative Management in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the issue.

Once the best-known face of mainland cinema, Li won the best actress title at the 1992 Venice Film Festival for The Story of Qiu Ju, becoming the first mainlander to win an international screen acting award.

She is not the only famous mainland star to renounce her citizenship in favour of moving to Singapore. In July 2009 Jet Li did likewise.

The Romeo Must Die actor moved his wife, former actress Nina Li Chi, and their two daughters, Jane and Jade, to Singapore in 2007 for their children's education. He also has a star on the avenue, but because his handprint has been done his plaque is there for all to see.