BEIJING - Actress Fan Bingbing's boyfriend Li Chen has revealed that his former girlfriend Zhang Xinyu cheated on him, in the latest twist in a social media drama that threatens to overshadow Fan and Li's high-profile debut as a couple.
After months of rumours, China's top star, Fan, 33, and her The Empress Of China co-star, Li, 36, confirmed their romance last Friday by sharing a photo of themselves on their Weibo pages.
Actress Zhang, 28, sent a mixed message on Weibo. She wrote: "Sometimes the people you think will be around all your life might suddenly disappear, and there isn't even a chance to hug them."
But she also wished her former boyfriend Li happiness.
Soon, things turned uglier as the actresses' friends traded accusations. Zhang's friend accused Fan of coming between Zhang and Li, said NetEase website. Designer Wang Shuai defended Fan on Weibo and alluded to Zhang dating actor Wallace Huo behind Li's back.
On Sunday, Li spoke up for Fan, saying he had to "protect her" from allegations that she stole him from his former girlfriend.
He wrote on Weibo: "Whatever I come out and say, I'm giving the other side a chance for publicity. But if I say nothing, I'm seeing Little Fan being slandered and hurt for no reason."
"What must be made clear is, the moment I knew Miss Zhang had cheated on me, she and I were done," he said.
"Nobody in this world can find happiness by hurting others. You have your tricks, I have my life. After today, whatever trouble Miss Zhang starts, we won't reply. May your life go well, may our paths no longer cross in this life."
He and Fan are said to have fallen in love on the set of The Empress Of China, a television show starring Fan as empress Wu Zetian and Li as Wu's childhood sweetheart, general Li Mu.
Last month, Li Chen's past and present girlfriends attended the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, both in dramatic trailing dresses.
He said of Fan on Sunday: "We are both people who know how to cherish what we have."
He added: "From now on I just want to protect her with all my might."