Crouching tiger, hidden scandal?
Zhang Ziyi is demanding an apology from a Hong Kong newspaper and other outlets that reported she was paid millions of dollars to carry on a sexual relationship with scandal-smeared Chinese politician Bo Xilai and is now the target of a government investigation.
"The accusations made against award-winning actress Zhang Ziyi are completely false and defamatory," Ziyi's rep tells E! News. "There is no truth in any of the allegations that have come forth which are a result of calculated cruel intentions against a well-respected established actress. Legal repercussions are ensuing and these scandalous reports will not be tolerated in any way."
But the buck doesn't stop there.
The Hong Kong paper, The Apple Daily, reportedly picked up on a story that originated on Boxun.com, a Chinese-language site operated in the United States.
Per various media reports, Boxun alleged that a billionaire pal of Bo's introduced him to Zhang and that, since 2007, he has paid her millions of dollars for sex—and that the Memoirs of a Geisha star has pocketed $100 million from liaisons with multiple high-ranking, deep-pocketed government officials over the past 10 years.
None of the sites that claimed original reporting quoted any sources on the record.
A letter from Zhang's lawyer to the Apple Daily demanding an apology and full retraction was posted on the actress' blog on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, through which she also called the allegations against her "completely ridiculous."
The Hong Kong University-based Chinese Media Project is reporting, meanwhile, that posts on Weibo about the alleged investigation, including the rumor that Zhang is currently not allowed to leave the country, are being removed.
Zhang's latest film, Dangerous Liaisons, premiered last week at the Cannes Film Festival, but the 33-year-old star was not there.
"We just want to help her get rid of this disturbance and seek justice," her rep says. "Then she will be able to shoot her films in peace and quiet and present you, her fans, with more and better films in return."