Chinese socialite Guo Meimei, the 23-year-old Kim Kardashian of the East, appeared on state TV in an orange jumpsuit to apologize for her history of alleged illegal gambling and prostitution in the midst of the country's faltering earthquake relief effort. Guo (maybe) used to work for the Red Cross, and the organization says her reputation is hurting donations.
Guo became an internet celebrity in 2011 after posting pictures of herself on Weibo in Maseratis and private planes, as one does. She became infamous after Weibo users pointed out she worked as a "commercial general manager" for the government-linked Chinese Red Cross. The Red Cross now denies that Guo ever worked for them, and how Guo made all her money remains unclear.
That's probably why the Chinese government propped her up on TV just hours after the earthquake hit on Sunday to apologize to the country. She explained that she made money as a call girl and by gambling, not as, you know, a government employee. "Because of my vanity, I've made a very big mistake," she said. "I'd like to sincerely apologize to Red Cross, also to the people and especially to those who need to receive help but haven't." According to CNN, Guo confessed to police that she would charge 100,000 yuan ($17,400) for one night with her.
The timing of her apology is fishy, however, as Guo was arrested for illegal gambling a month ago. As Christina Larson at Bloomberg explains,
Guo has not had a trial, and her recent arrest pertained to charges of running an illegal gambling and prostitution ring in Beijing, not misrepresenting herself as a Red Cross staffer. So it's a bit odd to see her popping up on TV now. But China Central Television has also run pretrial confessions of other Internet celebrities in recent months—turning famous suspects into scapegoats in the government's sweeping crackdown against corruption, vice, "rumor-mongering," foreign meddling, and other unwanted behaviors.
The Chinese Red Cross sent out this message on Weibo on Monday: "Rescue teams are working through the night, and time is of the essence. … So please, forget Guo Meimei."
[Images via Weibo, china.org]