Diana Pang

Diana Pang. Pic from YouTube.

Diana Pang was born in 1972 in Changsha, Hunan province, from where she moved to the United States to study. She then went to Hong Kong where she became famous for starring in category 3 films – aka adult movies – such as Erotic Ghost Story – Perfect Match and The Six Devil Woman.

On January 22, she found herself on the crest of a new wave of popularity, as reporters spotted her in Gansu province while attending a local meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), a legislative body inside the Communist Party.

The following day, she told China News Service that she would like to “do a little investment in Gansu, and shoot more films and TV programs featuring Gansu – especially mainstream programs.” “Mainstream programs” is an expression which refers to patriotic, historical movies. She stated that her interest in this genre is a legacy of her family, as her grandfather was the mayor of Zunyi and used to tell her “stories about the Long March.”

Since then, numerous posts on the topic have appeared on the Chinese web. Many argue that her involvement with the Party is not appropriate. On Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, one user writes: “it is shocking to know that Hong Kong porn star Peng Dan has become a CPPCC member in Gansu province. I do not know how to react, this is unbelievable… Since Gansu province is so ‘tolerant,’ why not legalize a red light district?” Others are more lenient, and just joke about the story.

According to a survey published by The Beijing News, 46.4 per cent of people surveyed deem Ms Pang’s new ambitions inappropriate and say they will mislead the public, while 16 per cent have no problem with it and believe the CPPCC should overlook her previous career. Finally, 37.6 per cent take a pragmatic view: never mind what she used to do in the past, the important thing is what she is going to do in the future.

Despite recent, deep changes in traditional customs, the Chinese public tend to be conservative about sex-related matters and the story of an adult movie actress entering a legislative body felt immediately sketchy. Which begs the question, will this turn out to be the next scandal for the Communist Party?

According to an article published on January 28 in state-owned The Global Times, the fact that celebrities are joining the CPPCC and that people discuss the phenomenon should be seen as a welcome development of the Chinese society. “This shows that on the one hand, the public expect more influential politicians who are close to the masses, while on the other hand they also put higher requirements on them to better perform their duties.  This reflects the public’s growing demands, and should also be the trend of the development of Chinese public servants: to have both public pulling power and political ability.”

Some internet users, however, have already begun to link the presence of Ms Pang in the Consultative Congress to other political scandals. “What is this story of Peng Dan being elected as Gansu provincial CPPCC member? Does Gansu want to shoot its own anti-corruption film or TV shows? Is Peng Dan going to play the leading role of Zhao Hongxia in the show?” reads one post on Sina Weibo. Zhao Hongxia is the name of a girl who was paid for having a sexual intercourse with Lei Zhengfu, an official in Chongqing administration. The video went public in November and sparked an outcry, at a time when Beijing is trying to crack down on corruption.

A commentary on The People’s Daily is even more explicit, openly pointing at potential troubles for the Party: “what is scary is that some of our celebrities consider CPPCC Membership a minor matter, they take politics as an entertainment alternative, and this will bring massive dangers to the CPPCC.”