As powerful people in the military, state media, and the central government are subject to investigation for corruption, Chinese netizens are waiting to see who will fall next. A rumor has started that Song Zuying, a soprano in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy, is being investigated for embezzling money from the military. While the allegations have not been confirmed, the rumor itself is powerful enough to have moved Sina to block a number of related keywords from Weibo search results.
This is only the latest controversy for Song. A member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, there has long been speculation that Song and former president Jiang Zemin had an affair. At this year’s National People’s Congress, Song apologized for performing at the Golden Music Hall in Vienna a decade ago, just one of several Chinese performers over the years to “abuse” the venue. From the South China Morning Post:
A Chinese concert has been cancelled at one of Europe’s most prestigious musical halls as China has vowed to crack down on the rampant practice of performers traveling abroad on the government’s dime.
[…] Military folk singer Song Zuying performed there in November 2003, further raising the venue’s profile.
Song, who enjoyed close ties to the Communist Party’s top leadership at the time, said she has since come to regret popularising the Golden Hall in China. “I set a bad precedent,” she said at a public event during this year’s parliamentary session in Beijing, according to the Shenzhen Evening News. [Source]
A search for “Song Zuying” on Weibo pulls up posts about her “low-key” appearance in the audience at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing last night. Amid the photos of Song watching Love Under the Hawthorn, one response to 新浪娱乐 (Sina Entertainment) in support of Song alludes to the latest controversy:
无为德道: Song Zuying is great. Too bad about the rumors hurting her reputation. Officials who violate discipline shouldn’t drag others down with them. Please understand the real meaning of JUSTICE!!!!!! @PeoplesDaily
宋祖英挺好的，可惜造谣她的人不好。哪个官不守纪律了，请不要牵扯他人，要懂得 义 这个字的真正含义！！！！！！@人民日报
Who exactly is “dragging down” Song is unclear, but the implication is that a corruption investigation would be motivated by political revenge, not actual misdeeds. Xi Jinping has vowed to catch both “tigers and flies” in his signature anti-corruption campaign, but many netizens think investigations of individual Party members are politically motivated.
One user simply wrote
我是第一烂人: Someone went to watch a play, but they were actually putting on an act.
and elicited these responses:
喝水的蚊子17: The last supper?
夜芒2014: Showing her face in public just prior to being snatched up. So many have recently done the same!
荒岛一树: In this system, you have to hide and be hidden in order to skirt the rules. I’m not that strong-headed, I won’t end up like that Nobel Prize winner in a northern prison cell, but I also won’t end up a fat little ass-licker. If the Big Toad came calling, I wouldn’t be able to refuse if I wanted to survive. I feel for this victim of the system.