In the modern climate of social media, many have gotten famous simply for being famous. Enter Sina Weibo, The Chinese version of Twitter. Guo Meimei is one of several who have taken advantage of the public exposure of Sina Weibo to become a celebrity. Meimei first made herself known to the internet world in 2011. It was at that time under the pseudonm Goa Yue’er, Meimei claimed on her microblog called “Jilin City Beijing Liaison Office worker Gao Yue’er” to be the general manager of the Chinese Red Cross.
At the same time, Meimei also bragged about her lavish lifestyle. The accompanying pictures displaying this wealth included photos of luxury cars, designer clothes, and even posh mansions. There was even a photo of her riding a jet ski in a bikini. Despite her efforts to keep it a secret, Meimei’s true name was soon discovered. With her cover blown and with the risk of getting in trouble, she quickly cancelled her entire Sina Weibo account. But it was too late and the damage was done. Her actions outraged many regular donators of CRC who claimed that this was proof that the organization was mismanaging funds.
At this point the CRC was already on thin ice, having already faced accusations of money mismanagement. Most of them even stopped donating to the actual charity despite its insisting on its complete ignorance of the illegal acts. The drop in the regular contributions was a whopping 60%. It was later discovered that Meimei’s rich married boyfriend had paid for her lavish lifestyle and in fact worked for a firm that raised funds for the real Chinese Red Cross. As punishment and in an attempt to correct the matter, the government decided they needed Meimei herself to undo what he had done.
This was not that easy. When they confronted her, she attempted to remain undercover by presenting them with false I.D. papers. They soon saw through the ruse and put her into the publicly televised interview. During the telecasting, Meimei publicly apologized to the Chinese people and specifically to the Chinese Red Cross and those who rely on it assistance. Her cancellation of her original Sino Weibo account also had another effect: her sudden and unexplained disappearance made her wildly popular. By the time she was put into the spotlight again, her status as a celebrity was assured.
Since that time, Meimei’s life has continued to spiral downward. On public television, she has confessed that she has even taken money in exchange for sex. She has proudly stated that as a call girl she charges 100,000 yuan ($17,400) per sex act. And apparently her services are in high demand. Now she has got herself into another legal fix. This time she has been accused and convicted of running an illegal casino out of private, rented flats. Throughout the trials, she confessed to participating in illegal gambling by denying hosting and profiting from it via a casino.
Gambling at all is illegal in most of inland China. However, it is legal in the Chinese territory of Maucau, where Meimei claims she often went to gamble. The police didn’t believe her. And what was worse, they discovered she was operating a casino. Gambling in China in places where that is illegal is bad, but actually hosting a casino in these places is considered much worse. Her court case began at 9 a.m. and didn’t end until 4 p.m. She appeared in court, appearing as plain as possible. She wore none of her customary flashy accessories; she wore almost no make-up.
Instead, she wore a simple white blouse, simple eyeglasses, and sported a very simple hairdo. In addition, she was reportedly ushered into the courtroom wearing handcuffs and leg shackles. The day commenced with her plea of not guilty. Meimei also pleaded ignorance of any laws concerning gambling. She claimed that although she had indeed held betting parties in her apartment, she had never had an organized casino. It was to no avail; the Beijing courts have sentenced the 24-year-old to five years imprisonment and fined 50,000 yen ($7,800), while her partner Zho Xiolai was sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined 20,000 yuan ($3,142.06).
There are many cases involving gambling every year. Meimei’s case has attracted such worldwide media attention specifically because she is such a publicly well-known personality. The Beijing Dongcheng People’s Court itself recognized that her case would be of immense international interest, posting constant updates concerning the court proceedings to its Twitter profile with the hashtag, “Guo Meimei Zhao Xiaolai casino trial. Meimei’s lawyer Wu Jungiang is still contemplating and discussing with his client the possibility of appeal.
The truth of the matter is that her obsession with fame got her caught. She might very well have continued her chosen lifestyle if she had not put it up for the whole world to see. And her life was indeed amazingly popular. Up until her arrest, she had around 2 million followers. She was even working on and starring in a movie about her life called “I am Guo Meimei.” It all came to an end where on the site that had made her a superstar, she bragged about winning a bet she had placed on the World Cup. And it all steamrolled from there.
The police investigated the matter and found out she and her ex-boyfriend were actually running a casino in their apartment. Although Meimei had so many fan followers on the Chinese social media site, most people in Chinese do not hate to see her go. In fact, many are delighted that she’s finally incarcerated and in fact wish the sentence had been greater.