Pop idol has girlfriend, causing Weibo meltdown, suicide threats, and cringeworthy editorial by Global Times


A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for October 9, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

“The gist of this commentary is quite obvious. That is, never trust any pledges made by celebrities about their dating and relationships. They will very likely cheat on their partners or be caught in love affairs at some point. However, unlike these celebrities who can’t stick to their commitments, the Communist Party will never disappoint you and will always be on your side.”

“I personally don’t get the frenzy. What does his relationship have to do with my life? The Global Times should put more energy into high-quality reporting!”

Chinese social media platform Weibo experienced a rare breakdown on October 8 after Lu Han 鹿晗, a 27-year-old singer and actor with a massive fan base in China, used the platform to announce (in Chinese) that he is in a relationship with the young Chinese actress Guan Xiaotong 关晓彤, writing, “Hello everyone, I want to introduce my girlfriend @GuanXiaoTong to you.” The post immediately triggered a huge spike of traffic that led to a two-hour network meltdown on Weibo. According to a statement (in Chinese) released by the Weibo Data Assistant, three hours after the original post was published, Lu Han’s update had been shared more than 460,000 times, had received nearly 1 million comments, and was “liked” over 2.5 million times.

Die-hard fans of Lu Han reacted with deep dismay on social media, with many threatening to commit suicide due to the betrayal of an idol that they felt was their “imaginary boyfriend.” On the day of the announcement, a male college student at Chongqing’s Southwest University accidentally fell from a campus building. The incident sparked widely circulated rumors that the victim was a female student who tried to end her life because of her distress over the news about Lu. The rumors were later dismissed by the school officials.

State media also weighed in: A much-discussed editorial (in Chinese) published by the Global Times claims that it is China’s peace and prosperity that lays the “fertile ground” for the “Lu Han phenomenon.” “It is only during times of long-term peace, smooth development, and common prosperity that the entertainment industry can thrive,” the article says. “The boom of the Chinese entertainment industry is a compelling indicator of China’s peace, stability, and prosperity.”