The hashtag #彭于晏出柜# “Eddie Peng comes out” has literally lit up the Chinese internet. Juicy rumors are swirling around social media that the Taiwanese-Canadian star and Zhang Lei, founder and CEO of Hillhouse Capital Group, are now an item.
Eddie Peng (彭于晏), a 35-year-old singer-turned-actor is one of Asia’s biggest and most beloved stars, headlining in a series of blockbuster action films in recent years that have turned him into one of the continent’s most sought-after bachelors. Over the years, the heartthrob has been linked to a number of alleged girlfriends, including Chinese bombshell Dada Chan and Mandopop diva Jolin Tsai , but has mostly managed to keep his private life a secret.
Meanwhile, Zhang Lei (张磊), 45, is one of China’s richest investors, founding Hillhouse Capital in 2005 with a $20 million investment. Now, the group reportedly manages over $20 billion. Despite his wealth, Zhang likes to live frugally and stay out of the eye of the press.
But that will be difficult to do now. In a Weibo post that has since been deleted, user @圈少爷 claimed that Peng was straight, but, in order to climb up the entertainment industry ladder, he had offered himself up to Zhang.
As evidence, the Weibo user posted a screencap of a WeChat group chat conversation in which anonymous sources were discussing the pair’s alleged relationship, claiming that Peng had slept with Zhang and that Peng was actually versatile (both a top or bottom).
A famous social media celebrity with more than 900,000 followers also posted a vague Weibo post about Peng and Zhang, which was retweeted by Liu Chun, CEO of Zhongnan Film and former vice-president of Sohu.com. That post has also since been deleted.
Peng’s team has denied that the rumors have any validity. “Complete fabrication,” wrote the star’s manager on Weibo. “Lawyers are looking into the matter.”
There have long been rumors that Peng is gay. In one interview, Peng’s close friend, Hong Kong actor and singer Shawn Yue, jokingly said: “Eddie doesn’t seem to be interested in girls, but he often checks out my body. There’s also a photo showing Peng kissing Jiang Jinfu, a Chinese actor and model, at the premiere for the movie A Wedding Invitation.
While some believe the rumors to be true, others are less certain. One netizen jokingly explained how they may have gotten out: “Zhang Lei says I want Eddie Peng to be my LP. Someone overhears it, and then goes around saying that they are together.” In business, LP is short for “Limited Partner,” but it could also mean “wife” (老婆, laopo) in Chinese.
By Alex Tang
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat