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A woman wearing mask rides a bike passing by the Wangjing SOHO office towers in Beijing on October 9, 2014. The office towers, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, is one of the biggest cash cows for their developer Soho China. Photo: SCMP/Simon Song

Soho China wins libel case against Chinese blogger for claiming that its Zaha Hadid-designed Wangjing project is bad feng shui

  • The company that operated the blog “S. Shengunju. S” was ordered to pay Soho China 200,000 yuan in damages by a district court in Beijing
  • The blog was shut down by WeChat, the social media network operated by Tencent Holding, after a complaint by Soho China

Pan Shiyi, the founder of Soho China and an outspoken property developer with 20 million followers on his blog posts, has won a libel suit against a Chinese blogger who alleged that the bad feng shui in one of Soho’s projects is bad for tenants.

Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology, which operates a blog called “S. Shengunju. S”, was ordered by the Beijing Chaoyang District Court to apologise to Pan, and pay Soho 200,000 yuan (US$29,800) in compensation. The blog wrote that Pan’s Wangjing Soho project, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, carries inauspicious forces that would be bad for its tenants.

“The article applies superstition to Wangjing Soho building, which institutes defamation,” the court said in a public verdict.

Wangjing Soho is a trio of office towers – featuring the late Iraqi-British architect’s signature curvatures – with 500,000 square metres (5.4 million square feet) of floor space. Resembling three giant pebbles, the buildings have become an iconic landmark in Wangjing, located in the northeastern corner of the Chinese capital and home to most of the city’s Korean community.

A number of international and technology companies are tenants at Wangjing Soho, including Daimler the German carmaker, Siemens the German manufacturer and Caterpillar the US maker of heavy machinery.

With an occupancy rate of 98 per cent, Wangjing Soho was the developer’s biggest cash cow, generating 386 million yuan in rental income last year, according to the company’s annual results. The project is so successful that Pan had left it off his disposals list in 2016 and 2017.

S. Shengunju. S was among the 9,800 social media accounts shut by the government last November, in a clean-up campaign of the country’s internet and blogs.

Before it was shut, the blog attracted more than 100,000 clicks within a few days of publishing its criticism of Wangjing Soho. WeChat, the social media platform operated by Tencent Holding, removed the blog post after Soho China filed a complaint.

Pan and his wife Zhang Xin are among the wealthiest businesspeople in China, ranked 71st on Hurun’s 2019 Global Real Estate Rich List, with their wealth estimated at US$3.35 billion.