One of China’s most famous scions of an ultra-wealthy family is taking heat after a series of leaked WeChat conversations showed he bullied, threatened and begged a woman who rejected his advances.
Wang Sicong , the 33-year-old son of Wang Jianlin, the billionaire founder of Dalian Wanda Group , has been accused of using his status to pressure an online celebrity into dating him.
Wang has long been a celebrity in China, and at one point was called “China’s most eligible bachelor”. Dalian Wanda is the world’s largest property developer, and the company draws comparisons to Disney because of its influence in the entertainment industry.
Wang’s playboy lifestyle and willingness to flaunt his wealth have been a source of fascination and criticism for years. In 2015 he found himself embroiled in a controversy after showing off eight iPhones and two gold Apple Watches he bought for his Alaskan Malamute.
But the most recent controversy is being met with more serious consternation in China. It has opened a conversation about how China’s ultra-wealthy can leverage their power to put regular people in difficult positions.
The issue at hand is an apparent four-year-long interaction between Wang and live-streaming celebrity Sun Yining.
She posted screenshots that she claimed were conversations between herself and Wang on Weibo on Tuesday (June 15) afternoon. The South China Morning Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the screenshots.
According to the messages, Wang was clearly interested in a romantic relationship with Sun, but she did not return the feelings.
For example, Wang would fly to Hangzhou, where Sun lives, to see the internet celebrity. But he would become angry when she said she did not want to meet.
“No response again? How could you ignore someone who likes you, cares about you and worries about you?” Wang was accused of writing in one message.
Then, appearing to get angrier, he wrote: “You just wait, I will let everyone know what kind of person you are: all looks and no value.”
The anger evolved into threats when Sun said she told Wang she was not interested because she is gay. At that point, Wang grew explosive and accused Sun of pretending to be a lesbian, threatening to “expose her”.
“You wait … I have all your chat history. Just wait, and you will be exposed. I don’t need you to die, I just need more people to see you as who you really are,” he wrote, according to the screenshots.
Sun never backed down and told Wang that his money and influence would not stop her from taking control of her own life.
“If you want to buy public opinion to frame me, or cyberbully me, I cannot interfere, but I don’t have to report everything to you; I have my own freedom,” she wrote on Weibo.
Wang did not publicly respond to the controversy surrounding the messages Sun posted online. Phoenix Entertainment, a Chinese-language television news station, reported that he told a journalist she was a liar who pretended to be heterosexual.
The conversations posted by Sun have struck a nerve in China, and people have expressed a mixture of fury and disbelief at the way Wang treated a woman he was interested in dating.
“Isn’t this just a creepy guy sexually harassing a female live-streamer and trying to ruin her life because he could not have her? She seemed frightened in the chat. She is clearly the victim here,” one person wrote on Weibo.
Another wrote: “What some people describe as a humbling gesture is actually Wang coercing a woman. ‘Look at me, a fuerdai, coming all the way for you, and you will not even see me? Are you trying to leave me hanging? I will expose you and destroy you then’.”
Fuerdai is a term that is used to describe the “rich second generation”, or the children of China’s ultra-wealthy people who made their riches when China began opening up in the 1980s and 1990s. Wang Sicong is one of the most famous of the sort.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.