Zhang Ziyi ends her scandals with a ring

Zhang Ziyi's romance with CCTV host Sa Beining has been blown wide open with loads of consequences-China's news hounds are filling pages with wedding talk, Internet bloggers are chatting about Ziyi's motives, and businessmen are baiting fashion watchers with copies of the lovers' sandals!

Ziyi and Beining's affair was only just exposed in photos published by Southern Metropolis Entertainment Weekly before the marriage news broke. Chinese media reported that Ziyi's mum, her brother and his wife gave their permission for Beining to propose-which he did with 9,999 roses and she said yes.

"Ziyi was so touched, they hugged and cried," said a close friend to the couple.

Their relationship was the talk of town for some time, but nothing was public until the pictures came out. Ziyi, 33, and Beining, a 36-year-old Muslim of Hui ethnicity, were actually dating for about a year already.

The magazine reported that the photos were taken when Beining visited Ziyi on the set of her movie The Grandmasters, which was filmed in the Guangdong province, directed by Wong Kar-wai.

"Beining would drive Ziyi to her locations and pick her up when she finished," sources told the magazine. "She even took a break from her tight schedule to spend time with him-at a stream in the forest park nearby."

"Their relationship wasn't a secret to those in the industry," the source added. "When she was shooting in Shanghai and Nanjing for Dangerous Liaisons, the crew would see him on the set and spot them eating together near her hotel."

According to the story, Beining-a Beijing Olympic torchbearer-fancied Ziyi from the time they met on his TV programme Show Me First in May last year, when she was promoting her movie Love For Life.

Rumours of their romance surfaced four months later, but even their friends only learned the truth in February when they kissed at her birthday party.

The "Zhang-Sa" romance has since become hot Internet chatter. Naysayers are speculating that this is "another celebrity gimmick" by Ziyi, to use Beining's "good man image" to mend her reputation, which was tarnished by a series of bad press.

She was called out on her failed relationships to several men-Fok Kai-shan, the son of Hong Kong tycoon Timothy Fok; Israeli-American tycoon Vivi Nevo; Jackie Chan and his son Jaycee.

But the worst came when Hong Kong's Apple Daily and Next Magazine accused her of sleeping with shamed Chinese politician Bo Xilai for pay. Beining, a Peking University law graduate, was fully behind Ziyi when she sued the publications for dragging her into Bo's scandal-which seemed to make their minds up about their future together.

As for the sandals, well, in the Southern Metropolis photos, Ziyi and Beining were seen sporting matching footwear, which readers took as a sign of "some kind of connection". Entrepreneurs took it as a sign to make money-a similar pair of white sandals can now be yours for only 48 Yuan (S$9) online.

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