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Tue, Nov 16, 2010
The New Paper
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Barbie's Big $weep
by Tan Kee Yun

OVER the past two weeks, Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu has been on the receiving end of an assortment of harsh remarks.

Netizens are gleefully flaming the 34-year-old, calling her everything from "evil woman" and "gold-digger" to "more disgusting than a rat" and "Big $" (a play on Hsu's official nickname Big S). The cause of such outrage?

Her sudden engagement to Chinese businessman and restaurant empire heir Wang Xiaofei, 29, after meeting him just four times over 20 days.

The questions on everyone's lips: What was she thinking? And why is she suddenly acting this way?

The whirlwind romance is currently the biggest news in Taiwan, eclipsing even S.H.E singer Selina Jen's burn injuries.

According to Apple Daily, the couple will have wedding banquets in Taiwan and China's Hainan Island in March.

Those who have religiously followed Hsu's personal life over the last decade, after her breakout role in the 2001 TV drama Meteor Garden with Taiwanese boy band F4, do not seem to have taken too kindly to this news.

Unlike Hong Kong celebrities Gigi Lai and Michele Reis, who were known for dating rich men before settling down with one, Hsu had not displayed any desire for tai tai-hood.

Wang, executive director of swanky dining chain South Beauty, also couldn't be more different from Hsu's ex-boyfriends. He belongs to China's second-generation elite class, and his family fortune reportedly amounts to 2.5 billion yuan (S$486 million).

There was never much money involved in Hsu's previous long-term relationships with Taiwanese actors Blue Lan and Vic Chou.

Lan, 31 - whom Hsu met on the set of Meteor Garden in 2001 and dated for four years - emerged from humble beginnings. He once revealed on a TV talk show that his father was a carpenter.

As for Chou, 29, a member of F4 and also her Meteor Garden co-star, he was no rich kid either. His parents split up when he was young and he was brought up by his dad, who owns an auto repair workshop. Hsu was in a relationship with Chou for three years, from 2005.

Both Chou and Lan were self-made men, achieving showbiz success on their own terms.

On the other hand, there's no hiding the fact that Hsu's fiance is a mummy's boy. Wang's highly protective mother, 52-year-old Zhang Lan, is the founder of South Beauty and holds the reins of the family business.

After news of the engagement broke on Oct 29, she has publicly defended Wang on several occasions. She brushed off grapevine talk that Wang has no income of his own and relies on her for a monthly allowance.


While Wang looks decent enough, he pales in comparison with Hsu's suave ex-boyfriends. This has led fans to ask if Hsu opted to settle for average looks in exchange for tai tai status.

And is her passion for Wang so strong that it has turned her well-known independence and strong-willed nature into submissiveness?

Back in 2001, she had no qualms admitting that she was the one who wooed Lan first, showering him with soups and desserts to show her fondness for him.

It was the same with Chou.

Though he was then romantically linked to the late actress Beatrice Hsu, she boldly showed her liking for him by rushing to his side after he met with a minor car accident.

But this time, it was Wang who swept Hsu off her feet by flying to Taipei to celebrate her birthday, armed with two bottles of fine wine.

And when her future mother-in-law decided to postpone the wedding from February to March, Hsu did not object.

Singapore followers of the news were not too optimistic about Hsu's swift decision to marry.

Mr Chen Guoguang, 30, who works in public relations, told The New Paper: "Twenty days is definitely too short (to get engaged). It's a huge risk."

But he added: "She might always get lucky. And even if it does not work out in this case, there will still be a substantial amount of alimony."

Some felt Hsu might have been following in the footsteps of her younger sister, TV host Dee Hsu, 32, who is married with two kids. Her husband, Mr Mike Xu, 40, comes from a family of doctors. While he isn't as wealthy as Wang, he is well-to-do.

"I feel that Barbie might have been influenced by Dee, either through direct advice or indirectly through comparisons with (the latter's) husband," said Mr Alvin Chee, 32, who works in education. But civil servant Eddy Yap, 25, urged Hsu's detractors to cut her some slack, as she "has the right to choose who she wants to be with".

"Seriously, if I were female, I would want a rich husband too," he said. "And if Barbie was really a gold-digger, she won't have wasted time on people like (Chou)."

In response to a comment on her Weibo microblog (China's version of Twitter) that said she was "more disgusting than a rat", Hsu posted "zhen yong xin" (meaning "you've put in so much time and energy" in Chinese).

But it seems the normally feisty Hsu may finally be cracking under pressure. She reportedly broke down after a few drinks on a flight to Shanghai recently, though she was said to be smiling bravely at the airport.

She also shut down her microblog last Thursday.

Looks like Barbie's found her "Ken", but she may have a tough time dealing with critics of her new image.

Hsu's wedding bells trump Jen's burns

POOR Selina Jen. It's painful enough to be recuperating from third-degree burns. But as if to rub salt into her wounds, she seems to have been pushed out of the public mind less than a month after her mishap.

The impending marriage between actress Barbie Hsu and Chinese restaurant heir Wang Xiaofei has taken Taiwan by storm and overshadowed all other entertainment news - including that of Jen's injuries.

On Oct 23, Jen, one-third of Taiwanese pop girl group S.H.E, suffered severe burns after a series of planned explosions went wrong on the set of I Have A Date With Spring, a musical drama she was filming in Shanghai.

Fifty per cent of her body - mostly her back, limbs and waist - was affected.

On Nov 6, The New Paper swung by Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei, where Jen, 29, is being treated.

While this reporter was unable to gain access to the intensive care unit she was warded in, it was clear that within two weeks, Jen's accident had gone from media circus to non-event.

Stark contrast There were no S.H.E fans at the hospital, a stark contrast to the warm reception that usually greets the girls whenever each of them arrives at Changi Airport.

There were no reporters or paparazzi hanging around. Some folks working in the shops located opposite the hospital told The New Paper they were "aware" that Jenwas staying at the hospital, but none displayed any genuine signs of concern or had words of sympathy forher.

A shop assistant at Xi Zhi Fang Bakery, who wanted to be known only as Miss Cai, explained that the area of Linkou is "one of high mobility", which could possibly explain why "not much has changed" despite the presence of a celebrity like Jen in a hospital there.

Linkou is a township on the outskirts of Taipei city.

Miss Cai added: "There are a lot of motels and serviced apartments here. Many people from the southern parts of Taiwan arrive for short-term visits.They come and go."

At an eatery called Da Jia Buns, the shopkeeper, who gave his name as Mr Huang, said the only day he remembered Linkou "being unusually crowded" was Oct 24, the day Jen was rushed to the hospital after being flown in from Shanghai.


This article was first published in The New Paper.

More stories:

Barbie Hsu's whirlwind romance brings out naysayers
Taiwan actress Barbie Hsu gets engaged
Love at first sight seems too good to be true for netizens
Barbie Hsu - sexy vegetarian
Chemistry of love
Better to marry for love
Women have trophy husbands too
It takes more than money to find true love




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