Mother of Wanting Qu, pop star girlfriend of Vancouver’s mayor, is arrested for corruption in China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 April, 2015, 6:19am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 April, 2015, 3:00pm

The mother of Wanting Qu, the pop star girlfriend of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, has been arrested for corruption in China, according to Chinese state media.

A woman identified as Qu Zhang Mingjie, a Harbin city official, is currently in detention in Gu township, China Daily reported on Thursday.

The official state-run newspaper reported that Qu Zhang Mingjie was a longtime bureau-level cadre in Harbin, northeast Chinese. She was dismissed as deputy director of the city’s development and reform commission in September 2014, then in November was relieved of other duties related to the city’s urban construction and renewal activities, the report said.

A November 3 announcement by the Harbin government confirming Zhang Mingjie’s dismissal has also emerged.

China Daily reproduced a social media photo of Zhang at an ice-fishing competition she attended in 2010 in her official capacity. The woman appears to be the same person that Wanting Qu has previously identified as her mother.  

The singer’s management teams, Nettwerk Music Group in Vancouver and Universal Music China, have yet to respond to the South China Morning Post's emails and phone calls seeking comment.

However, Wanting Qu wrote an ominous-sounding public message to her arrested mother on social media last week to mark her birthday.

“Despite our differences, we share the same blood,” Qu wrote on Facebook on April 16. “I must admit I feel regretful for not being in her life for the past 15 years. I also feel somewhat resentful towards her for not being in mine since I was a teen. But over the years … I’ve forgiven her because I’ve grown to understand fully that no one is perfect. No even her. Just because she’s suddenly a mother doesn’t make her immune to all faults."

She concluded the message to her apparently incarcerated parent: “I love you mom. Always have and always will. Stay well and strong.”

Qu also posted an image urging “patience” on her Weibo microblogging page on Thursday around the time that news of her mother's arrest broke.

China Daily cited an “insider” source as saying that Qu Zhang Mingjie’s arrest was related to the sale of state assets at fire-sale prices. The newspaper described the case against her as “complex”.

A spokesman for the Vancouver mayor’s office, Braeden Caley, told the South China Morning Post that the arrest was “not something that this office would be commenting on”. Caley, the mayor’s director of policy and communications said he would pass on a request for comment to Robertson.

Qu’s relationship with the married Vancouver mayor was first reported in January, and  has since been confirmed by both Qu and the mayor. On Valentine’s Day,  Robertson posted a photo with Qu on his Weibo account with the message: “Happy Valentines Day sweetheart! I’m so lucky you fill my life with love and happiness. Thanks for making my family happy too!”

Qu, 31,  responded: “Thank you for loving me Gregor. Ps. U r a lucky man! Happy Valentines to all!”

When news of Qu’s relationship with the 50-year-old mayor first broke, she responded with a series of social media posts about the sanctity of marriage: “I believe in the commitment of a marriage. I believe one's happiness should never result in another's loss or sadness.”

Harbin-born Qu added a Chinese-only message on her Weibo account that happiness could not be built on the “destruction” of another’s marriage, or upon deception.

Robertson  has four adult children with Amy Robertson, his wife of almost 30 years. The Robertsons announced they were separating  in early July to “dispel false rumours being spread online”. They said they had split  “amicably”. A spokeswoman said at the time “there is no third party”, The Province newspaper reported.

Qu and Robertson had previously worked together to promote Vancouver, Qu serving at the time as Tourism Vancouver’s China ambassador.  They were both part of an 18-person delegation that toured mainland China and Hong Kong in November 2013.  In her Tourism Vancouver role, Qu was not directly answerable to the mayor, although she helped develop his social media profile in China, where he has more than 91,000 Weibo followers.

China is currently engaged in a massive anti-corruption drive, with thousands of officials at all levels caught up in the sweep. The government this week released a list of its 100 most-wanted fugitives who had fled the corruption crackdown. Twenty-six were listed as having escaped to Canada.