On Friday, a leading Beijing newspaper, The Beijing News, named actress Zhang Ziyi as the most beautiful person in China, 2008.
Public appeals by the 29 year old to raise money for the Sichuan Earthquake relief effort might have had something to do with her ability to garner the public vote, especially considering that many Chinese people have never rated Zhang Ziyi very highly.
Zhang’s beauty is a topic of conversation often endured by foreigners in China. Many Chinese people seem to find it incredible that the actress has been able to win such Western acclaim. “According to Chinese standards of beauty”, I am often told, “Zhang Ziyi is not that beautiful”. This tedious topic ranks just below enthusiastic explanations that “Chinese is the hardest language in the world” and “Sichuanese food is very spicy”.
Last year's winner was the actor Huang Xiaoming. Perhaps the fact that Huang is not among the 50 names on this year's list will bring strange comfort to his embittered former English teacher.