CHINA / SOCIETY
Update: 'Prince of piano' Li Yundi removed from music and arts associations after detention on suspicion of soliciting prostitute
Published: Oct 21, 2021 10:25 PM Updated: Oct 22, 2021 11:22 AM
Li Yundi Photo: Courtesy of Universal Music

Li Yundi Photo: Courtesy of Universal Music



A number of music and arts associations including the China Association of Performing Arts and the Chinese Musicians' Association on Friday announced they would ban Chinese pianist Li Yundi from cooperating with any member units and removed him from the membership list due to "extremely negative social impact" after he was allegedly detained by Beijing police for soliciting a female prostitute on Thursday night.

Chaoyang police wrote on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo on Thursday that they had recently received reports that someone was engaged in prostitution in a Chaoyang residential area. After investigation, a 29-year-old woman surnamed Chen and a 39-year-old man, surnamed Li, was caught by the police. The two had admitted to the illegal behavior and Chaoyang police placed them under administrative detention in accordance with law.

Media and netizens began speculating that the suspect is Li Yundi, who was the youngest pianist, at 18, to win the XIV International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000, and served as a judge for the competition in 2015. 

A Weibo post written by the Beijing police on Thursday night also gave the hint as the post came with a picture of a piano keyboard, with the caption, "This world is indeed more than black and white, but black and white must be distinguished apart. Make no mistake..." 

The post, which was later reposted by Chaoyang district police, led netizens to believe that the male detainee was in fact Li. 

On Sina Weibo, the hashtag, "Li Yundi detained for soliciting prostitute," soared to the top of search rankings after just a few minutes.

This is not the first time Li was caught in the middle of a scandal, with a host of internet celebrities and netizens exposing his previous record of lewd photos and online content.  

The arrest came when local police, following up on reports lodged by Chaoyang residents, had noticed that Li would often solicit prostitutes at a fixed time regularly, and thus waited by the door and eventually busted Li and Chen, ifeng.com reported. Police have also found the money transfer records on their WeChat accounts. 

Legal experts noted that soliciting prostitute does not constitute a crime, but will be subject to a penalty of up to 15 days of detention. 

Li's verified personal tags on Weibo, which had previously been described as "an international pianist, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a member of the Standing Committee of All-China Youth Federation, and the vice president of the Hong Kong United Youth Association," have been revoked and amended to "an international pianist," the Global Times found on early Friday. 

The China Association of Performing Arts also stated on Friday that Li's behavior reflects his indifference to law and lack of moral self-discipline, with the Association calling for a member boycott on Li.

The Chinese Musicians' Association, where Li had joined, on Friday also announced to remove Li's membership, for him posing "extremely negative social impact."

On the same day, Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province stopped using Li as the city's image ambassador. 

Li has performed at the Spring Festival Gala, the largest annual gala in China, five times, according to media reports. 

Known for a positive public image, he has been awarded the titles of "China's Top Ten Youth Leaders" and "National May Fourth Youth Ambassador." 

Many netizens expressed their disappointment that Li, a star who has always portrayed himself as pure and innocent, was exposed to have allegedly committed something illegal. Some netizens also praised the Beijing police's law enforcement.

In August, Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu Yifan was arrested on suspicion of rape, also by Chaoyang district police. 

"Now the Spring Festival Gala in Chaoyang detention center must be merrier than ever, with not only a singing performance but also piano accompaniment," a netizen wrote sarcastically on Sina Weibo.

Observers pointed out that if Li Yundi's illegal behavior is confirmed, it will be almost impossible for him to continue his career in China, as the country vows zero tolerance for fallen entertainers.

On September 13, 14 major internet platforms  pledged to tackle unhealthy online posts as well as the issue of disgraced entertainers. The platforms - including Sina Weibo, Tencent Video, QQ music, Douyin and Toutiao - made pledged as members of the Chinese Association of Performing Arts (CAPA), which called for boycotts against individuals with records of illegal or immoral behavior. The platforms promised not to work with scandal-hit entertainers and will instead focus on artists with excellent moral integrity. 

As of Thursday midnight, the airing variety show which has been popular with Li Yundi as a contestant, Call Me by Fire, has delisted the first eight episodes on the streaming platform following Li's detention by police, the Global Times found.

Global Times


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