Why Do People Hate Gong Li: The Intriguing Psychology Behind People’s Aversion to Gong Li

Gong Li is considered one of China’s greatest actresses, yet she has faced some criticism and dislike over the years. This article explores the main reasons why some people dislike Gong Li.


Gong Li’s romantic relationships and marriages have been a source of controversy, which has led to some criticism of the actress.

Affair with Older Married Man Early in Career

In the late 1980s, early in her acting career, Gong Li had an affair with an older married man named Huang Yongyu. He was considered a mentor in guiding her acting career, but their affair caused scandal at the time. Some viewed this as an abuse of power and controversial given the 32 year age gap.

Table 1: Details on Gong Li’s Early Affair

ManHuang Yongyu
ProfessionChinese musician and producer
Age56 years old
Gong Li’s Age21 years old
StatusMarried with children

Short-Lived Marriages

Gong Li has been married three times, with all of her marriages ending in divorce after a relatively short period. This has added to a perception that she struggles with maintaining long-term relationships.

  • In 1996, she married singer Tan Tong a month after meeting him, divorcing after 6 months.
  • In 2003, she married businessman Ooi Hoe Seong but divorced 14 months later.
  • Her third marriage in 2005 to investor Li Chen also ended in divorce in 2010.

Table 2: Details on Gong Li’s Marriages

HusbandYear MarriedYears Together Before Divorce
Tan Tong19960.5 years
Ooi Hoe Seong20031.2 years
Li Chen20055 years

These short-lived marriages have led some to be critical of her inability to maintain lasting relationships.

“HOMEWRECKER” Accusations

Gong Li’s second husband, Ooi Hoe Seong was married when they first met. This led to accusations that she deliberately stole him away from his wife, breaking up his family.

Whether fair or not, this “homewrecker” reputation caused some controversy that has fuelled negativity towards Gong Li in parts of Asia. The quick dissolution of their eventual marriage after only 14 months added further criticism.


Another complaint about Gong Li from some people is that she comes across as arrogant or overly prideful. Some examples that back up these complaints:

Demanding Nature on Set

Gong Li reportedly has very demanding standards when acting in films, pushing co-stars and directors hard if they do not meet her expectations. While this perfectionist approach may stem from professionalism, it has also rubbed some collaborators the wrong way.

Refusal to Change Her Accent

Gong Li’s very thick regional accent from northeastern China has been criticized as an issue for her acting roles, but she has steadfastly refused requests or coaching to minimize her accent. Some see this refusal as arrogant or dismissive of the need to improve her craft.

Bluntness in Media Interviews

In various print and televised interviews over her career, Gong Li has come across as very direct and blunt. While this honesty is refreshing to some, others perceive her blunt comments to be arrogant or overly opinionated.

These complaints of arrogance likely combine with other controversies like her marriages to shape some negative attitudes towards Gong Li among certain demographics.

HER Politics

As a high-profile Chinese actress, Gong Li’s ties to politics have also sparked some criticism and backlash. Her perceived support of controversial policies has alienated some fans internationally.

Becoming a Singapore Citizen

In 2008, Gong Li shocked many Chinese fans by taking Singaporean citizenship. This was seen as turning her back on her native country by some intense Chinese nationalists. Singapore’s restrictions on free speech add to perceptions she sold out political freedoms.

Support for One-Child Policy

When asked in a 2006 interview, Gong Li stated her strong support for China’s restrictive one-child policy. This policy involved forced abortions and sterilizations, which outraged human rights advocates in the West and sparked calls for boycotts of Gong Li’s films.

Perceived Ties to the CCP

While not definitively proven close to the Chinese Communist Party, Gong Li is widely assumed to be aligned with government policies. To dissidents both inside and outside China who oppose the authoritarian CCP, this perceived loyalty can fuel some backlash.

The intersection of artistic fame and politics ensures Gong Li’s stardom will involve some ideological divisions among audiences. Her assumed ties to Singapore and the CCP exacerbate this polarization of opinions.

What positive qualities do admirers highlight about Gong Li?

While Gong Li certainly has critics and detractors, she remains enormously popular across China and Asia and even has many Western admirers. Supporters tend to highlight several admirable qualities:

Acting Range

As one of China’s premiere actresses for decades, Gong Li has shown incredible range in her film and stage roles. She can perfectly encapsulate everything from a tragic 1930s courtesan to a struggling young factory worker to a ruthless real estate mogul. Her emotive performances move audiences.


Considered a great beauty since her movie debut, Gong Li’s appearance captivates people. She has an elegance and grace that shines through even in historical roles with modest clothes and makeup. Audiences globally have been enraptured by her beauty for 30+ years.

Work Ethic

People that have worked behind-the-scenes on films with Gong Li praise her relentless work ethic. She reportedly throws herself fully into every role, learning relevant skills like playing instruments for certain parts. This tireless dedication pays off on screen with memorable performances.

Her incredible acting talents, stunning looks, and steel-willed work ethic make Gong Li a revered figure in Chinese entertainment despite some equally fierce criticism in certain circles.

What are the main reasons people dislike Gong Li?

To summarize, the main reasons why some significant portion of people dislike Gong Li include:

  • Controversies over her romantic life, including an early affair with an older married man and several quickly-ended marriages
  • Accusations of being a “homewrecker” for seducing her married second husband Ooi Hoe Seong
  • A blunt, demanding public persona seen as arrogant or overly prideful by critics
  • Political stances like acquiring Singaporean citizenship and supporting China’s one-child policy that alienated audiences

While she remains beloved by many, these factors fuel plenty of criticism and even cultural boycotts among detractors. The reasons behind people disliking Gong Li depend somewhat on individual perspective but largely tie into tensions around her personal relationships and political alignments.

What’s an example of a divisive incident in Gong Li’s career?

A prime example of an incident from Gong Li’s career that sparked polarized reactions and illustrated some of the reasons she has detractors was her 2006 interview with Der Spiegel magazine.

In the interview, Gong Li made forceful defenses of both China’s one-child policy and the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership. On the one-child policy she stated: “We have to do something about the population explosion in China. We can’t afford people having children at will. If there were no regulations, we would have three billion people in no time at all.”

These sympathetic views of coercive policies opposed by human rights organizations led to Western calls for boycotting her films. But domestically, her staunch backing of party leadership played very well. Gong Li said international critics “don’t understand us” and that only the CCP could lead China’s modernization.

The nationalist praise for her domestically was offset by disgusted reactions abroad. This polarized response and complex mix of artistic respect combined with political opposition captures the essence of Gong Li’s uniquely divisive star persona – where analysis depends heavily on cultural perspective and values.

Table 3: Mixed Reaction to 2006 Der Spiegel Interview

GroupReactionKey Quotes
Mainland China nationalistsStrongly positive“She’s a true Chinese patriot who understands real conditions here.”
Western human rights criticsIntensely negative“Gong Li clearly doesn’t value human rights or personal freedom if she supports these horrific policies.”


Gong Li’s artistic talents and prolific career have ensured her status as a Chinese entertainment icon for decades. Yet behind this success lies more complex perceptions from audiences split over controversial aspects of her personal and political life.

Reasons her critics dislike Gong Li range from unease with her short-lived marriages to anger at perceived support for authoritarian policies. But her admirers cite qualities like acting range, elegance, and relentless work ethic as reasons to revere her on balance.

Ultimately the depth of reaction on both sides illustrates the immensity of Gong Li’s fame across Chinese culture. The unusual polarization and constant controversies surrounding her testify to an unignorable figure – one most Chinese recognize even if opinions on her life and politics divide public sentiment.

Audience perspectives on Gong Li come weighted with ideological baggage. But if influence alone marks fame, she ranks as clearly one of China’s most significant actresses even 30+ years after her movie debut made her an instant star and kickstarted decades of dramatic critical divides regarding her merits.

FAQs Related to Dislike of Gong Li

Here are answers to 5 common questions regarding why certain groups dislike Gong Li:

Is Gong Li blacklisted in Taiwan?

While not formally banned, Gong Li’s perceived ties to the CCP and past statements supporting policies opposed in Taiwan mean her films and promotional visits are controversial there. Nationalist activists have protested her movies like “Memoirs of a Geisha”.

Does China censor criticism of Gong Li?

Domestically, substantial criticism of Gong Li related to accusations like being a homewrecker are censored online and in traditional media. But discussions of her personal life do occur. State media coverage focuses on artistic achievements.

What award caused boycott calls against Gong Li?

Western boycotts advocating banning Gong Li’s films arose from her winning the 1999 New York Film Critics Circle award for “Raise the Red Lantern”, highlighting ideological opposition.

Did Gong Li support Hong Kong security laws?

When the National Security Law was enacted in 2020, Gong Li showed public support alongside other celebrities on CCP channels, further alienating Hong Kong democracy advocates.

Which country granted Gong Li citizenship causing controversy?

In 2008, Gong Li’s granting of citizenship by Singapore fueled anger among Chinese nationalists over the symbolism of one of China’s most famous actresses taking another nationality. Critics accused her of being unpatriotic.

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