A surrogacy scandal involving popular Chinese actress Zheng Shuang, 29, has erupted on social media, after a voice recording surfaced on Monday night (Jan 18).
In it, she was allegedly heard discussing what to do with two unborn children after her relationship with producer Zhang Heng, 30, fell apart towards the end of 2019. They were rumoured to have secretly married but neither has confirmed it.
The surrogate mothers, who were in the United States, were supposedly about seven months pregnant at the time.
At one point in the conversation, which involved the parents of the former couple, "Zheng" exclaimed: "The child really cannot be aborted. I am annoyed to death."
They also discussed adoption or abandoning the babies in the hospital after their birth.
Also on Monday, her ex-partner Zhang posted a photo of him with two young children on Weibo.
Implying that Zheng had abandoned her children, he said he had been stuck in the United States for a year, and he and his family "must take care of and protect two young and innocent lives".
Birth certificates, which have not been verified, have been posted online of a boy born in December 2019 in Colorado and a girl born in January 2020 in Nevada, both with Zheng and Zhang named as the parents.
Zheng said on Weibo on Tuesday, without explicitly addressing the scandal: "It's a very sad and private matter for me."
The actress, who found fame with her role in 2009's Chinese remake of Meteor Shower and its sequel the following year, implied that Zhang had ulterior motives and said she has a team of lawyers to deal with the matter.
The couple are currently embroiled in money and legal issues which have yet to be resolved in court.
She later added that Zhang had cheated on her in September 2019, which was why she left the US to return to China.
She seemed to indirectly admit that the children are hers at the end of the post, saying: "I needed help to figure out how to resolve the situation with the children."
The scandal has already cost her at least one lucrative endorsement deal.
Italian fashion house Prada had just named her as ambassador recently. It said in a Jan 19 statement: "Following significant recent media coverage of her personal life, Prada Group has today decided to cancel its collaboration with the actress Zheng Shuang, which was announced January 11, 2021."
London jewellery brand Lola Rose reportedly deleted all content concerning Zheng from its Weibo account, while a Harper's Bazaar feature on her was also deleted from the magazine's Weibo account.
Even her massive fan base has started to desert her, with one fan club president saying he is no longer following her and one major fan site closing down.