Zhang Ziyi begins to address quake scandal

Chinese Red Cross donation made, but questions remain

BEIJING -- Actress Zhang Ziyi began to clear up a scandal that has dogged her since January over whether she had fulfilled donation commitments for 2008 Sichuan earthquake victims, state media reported Tuesday.

Rumors surfaced online in January anonymously accusing Zhang ("Memoirs of a Geisha") of reneging on the full amount she pledged to donate. On Monday, the Chinese Red Cross Foundation said it had received a donation from Zhang of 160,000 yuan ($23,437), bringing her total to the 1 million yuan she pledged just after the May 12, 2008, earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan province, which killed approximately 70,000 people.

Zhang's agent, Ling Lucas, released copies of two receipts showing donations of 400,000 yuan and 440,000 yuan, respectively, to indicate that Zhang had indeed made earlier contributions to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation.

Questions remain about whether Zhang is holding back funds from events at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, where she stated a goal (Chinese) of raising $1 million for earthquake relief.

On Saturday, Lucas said in an interview with Internet portal Sina.com (Chinese) that fundraising efforts fell short of that goal, raising only $500,000 in pledges. She also said that currently the Ziyi Zhang Foundation, registered as a non-profit in the U.S., had funding of approximately $500,000, including a $100,000 donation from Zhang’s friend Wendi Deng, wife of News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch.

On Monday, charity organization Care for Children said in a statement that it had received a commitment for $400,000 from the Ziyi Zhang Foundation to build a "training and resource center for the management and development of foster care, special education needs, and support for street children" in Deyang, Sichuan province, a city also damaged by the 2008 earthquake.

Last week, Zhang exited "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," which she was originally set to star and co-produce, to join the cast of Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grand Master." Zhang also appeared in Wong's "2046."

Zhang is both loved and hated by domestic Chinese audiences. Although she is the best known Chinese actress of her generation, her success in Hollywood has made some wonder if Zhang has turned her back on her own country. She was also criticized for semi-nude photos taken of her sunbathing with boyfriend Vivi Nevo in January 2009 on the island of St. Barts.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the scandals involving Ms. Zhang as being resolved by her latest donations. It also neglected to include the full scale of the accusations against her, relating to $1 million in donations Ms. Zhang has allegedly raised but not yet disbursed. THR regrets the error.