Cai Xukun has become the latest Chinese celebrity to face potential blacklisting after rumours about his involvement in his former sexual partner’s alleged “forced abortion” began circulating online last week.
The Beijing Advertising Association, a branch under the Beijing municipal government, issued a firmly worded notice on July 1 urging “relevant brands, talent agencies, and MCN agencies” to “carry out proper risk management” in relation to Cai. The statement, though not explicit, implies brands and agencies should suspend any collaborations with the popstar to avoid bringing more attention to the scandal.
Before the notice was issued some media outlets had already begun to remove traces of Cai. The state media agency China Central Television deleted all content featuring Cai from its website on July 2, causing the topic “CCTV takes down all Cai Xukun videos” to amass a staggering 2.26 billion views on Weibo (China’s Twitter).
Over the past week, Cai has been embroiled in controversy surrounding his alleged involvement with an unnamed “Miss C”. According to social media speculation, the pair had sexual relations after meeting at a karaoke bar in 2021 and, after finding out she was pregnant shortly after, Miss C had an abortion at Cai’s request. Cai is also accused of having a private investigator follow Miss C and of bribing Miss C to keep silent about their entanglement.
Cai responded to the allegations in a Weibo post on July 3, explaining that, whilst he had been involved with a “Miss C”, the relationship ended amicably and there had been no forced abortion. The post received 6 million likes and almost 500,000 comments, with many fans declaring their faith in Cai’s innocence.
The singer’s agency released a statement the same day calling the allegations “misinformation” spread by “malicious marketing accounts”. The “defamatory” claims will be handled through the proper legal processes, the agency also said.
Following a spate of high-profile scandals from 2018 onwards (most notably Kris Wu’s rape conviction), celebrity endorsements have become a high-risk venture for foreign and domestic brands operating in China. The government has increasingly placed its focus on moral rather than political censorship in recent years, and celebrities are often under the most scrutiny to uphold these values as highly visible and influential members of cultural life.
Cai Xukun’s scandal comes just months after the star renewed his brand ambassador contract with Prada, who have previously not hesitated to terminate contracts with other disgraced Chinese celebrities. Cai reportedly holds 42 brand endorsement deals in total, including with TAG Heuer, Bulgari, vivo, Nescafé, Yanjing Beer, Gentle Monster, L’Oréal, and Levi’s.
Netizens are currently debating how quickly Cai is likely to be dropped from these brand deals, with many confident that Prada will be the first to call an end to the collaboration. Despite the warnings from Beijing Advertising Association and netizens’ predictions, however, none of the brands have severed ties with Cai at present.