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MAY 19, 2000 VOL. 27 NO. 19 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Asiaweek Pictures
Can Gong Li make the grade?

People
Too Pretty for School?

She may have successfully raised the red lantern, but students at Peking University say Gong Li is not likely to raise standards on their campus. That's why they object to the diva-esque movie star joining them for an undergraduate degree course in social studies. While Gong, 34, professes she wants nothing more than to "pursue the spirit of learning," her future classmates think she is trying to jump the queue. Since the announcement in April that the star of Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern had been accepted, the university's website has been flooded with angry mail. "Other students toil and study hard for 16 years, and now all it takes is a pretty face to be able to get into university," seethed one student. The faculty should "hang its head in shame," ranted another.The normally composed Gong has reacted with "shock and surprise." Luckily for her, university vice principal Zhou Qifeng has leapt to her defense. The international beauty is "an ordinary person who does not warrant such prejudice," he says. Oh, and she is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Leon Learns the Score When It Comes to Loving the Motherland

First it was Andy Lau who fell foul of the Chinese authorities after they vetoed his plan to learn the ancient theatrical art of face-change. Vulgar pop stars are not the kind of person they want
mastering the quick-change act, they said. Now it's the turn of Lau's fellow Hong Kong icon, Leon Lai, to be in trouble. The Beijing cadres say they don't like the way his song "All Day Love" draws on passages from the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers." In a statement, the Chinese warned against use of the anthem for commercial purposes. Lai, 33, who was born in Beijing, says his tune is supposed to reveal his love for China. He insisted he had no plans to alter the song, but would possibly do something if he received a convincing argument. How about not being allowed to play in China, Leon? Would that do the trick?

Lily's Back - with a Vengeance

For years, Lily Wong was a curvaceous, pugnacious and flirtatious cartoon star in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper. Then, in May 1995, her creator, Larry Feign, received a fax from the paper informing him that he and Lily were no longer wanted - almost certainly because of anti-Beijing comments in the strip. Feign, a longtime resident of the territory, headed for London. Now, though, he's returning to Hong Kong - and is bringing Lily with him. "I've missed her, which is why I'm forcing her to come back," says the 44-year-old American. Feign has been hired by the people behind the soon-to-be launched iMail, successor to the Hong Kong Standard and a rival to the Post. It's the kind of job the feisty Lily will relish.

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