BEIJING - Chinese Internet users rose up in anger Tuesday after the televised prostitution and gambling "confession" of a woman who embroiled the China Red Cross in scandal - but condemned the media, rather than her.
Guo Meimei, now 23, triggered a wave of public ire in 2011 when she flaunted her wealth online and claimed she was the general manager of a firm called "Red Cross Commerce", which web users took to mean she had received embezzled funds.
"Guo Meimei Baby", as she is known online, posted photos of her opulent lifestyle to nearly two million followers on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, posing in front of a Maserati or sipping a drink in business class on a plane.
The China Red Cross denied any ties to Guo, and the actress and singer later insisted that she had made up her job title.
Guo was detained last month on suspicion of illegal gambling during the football World Cup, and on Monday, state broadcaster CCTV aired her lengthy televised "confession".
In it, clad in an orange prison vest, she acknowledged that she had helped organise a gambling ring and had "many times" engaged in sex for money.
"I made a very big mistake just to satisfy my vanity," Guo said.
"I want to express my deep apologies to the Red Cross Society of China. And to the public and those in need of help, I feel even sorrier." State-run media also featured interviews with Guo's former boyfriend, 42-year-old businessman Wang Jun, and her assistant.
Guo is only the latest suspect to be paraded on Chinese state television before going to trial, in what critics call politically motivated public shaming by the ruling Communist authorities.
Other instances include Chinese-American billionaire blogger Charles Xue, journalist Gao Yu and Peter Humphrey, the British founder of a Shanghai-based risk advisory company that did work for embattled pharmaceutical firm GSK.