China's Liu Xiaoqing


Liu Xiaoqing was one of the very first stars of contemporary Chinese cinema. Enterprising and unconventional, she always ploughed her own furrow and she has paid a heavy price. Portrait of an unusual star.


Each year there are more and more Chinese stars at the Cannes Film Festival. From Gong Li to Zhang Ziyi, from Yang Ziqiong to Zhang Manyu, none of these stars wants to miss the chance to show their films on this stage, which grabs the attention of the world. 

But one Chinese celebrity has never had the chance to show her work at this prestigious ceremony. Her name is Liu Xiaoqing and she has been very well known since the end of the 1970s. The reason for this omission may lie in the era when she became famous.

At the end of the 70s, China entered a new age of film and of society. The people on the art scene broke out from their fixed images to express their more human, genuine sides. Liu was supporting actress in The little flower, the first film after the Cultural Revolution. Her dream had come true: she was a superstar and a teenage idol.
More than 30 years later, Liu remains very well known, not only because of her strong character, but also because of her distinctive past.

She launched herself into business just as she hit the peak of her artistic career. She wrote a memoir, I did it my way, and gave herself the name Billionaire Sister.

Unlike other stars, Liu became famous thanks to impressive performances in supporting roles. Thanks to her talents, she won some 20 prizes in various countries.

At the time when China was reforming and opening up its borders many other artists went west, but Liu chose to follow her own path – to stay in China and continue to be a popular star.

From property investments and directing television films, Liu became very rich and appeared 45th in Forbes’ list of the 50 richest Chinese business people. From being the first Chinese star, she became China’s first female billionaire, and the change in Liu in a way reflects the change in Chinese society.

In 2002, she was accused of tax evasion and, despite her popularity, she was imprisoned.

Liu returned to her artistic career in 2004 in order to pay her heavy debts. She has not returned to the screen but she is very active behind the scenes. At the beginning of March she announced she is linking up with her former partner, famous actor and director Jiang Wen, to make a new film The king of Shanghai.

To young people, Liu is perhaps an actress of another age. But in our time, where the internet is a big part of daily life, she is an important element in Chinese entertainment culture. 

The scandals in her life can all the more pique people’s interest. Her private life, her hobbies and even her sense of style create a buzz on the internet. Her own famous line sums up the situation: “It is difficult to be an honest person, it’s difficult to be a woman, it’s even more difficult to be a famous woman and it is almost unbearable to be a woman who is both famous and single!”

Biography of Liu Xiaoqing

  • 195?: Born in Sichuan province (the exact year is a matter of controversy).
  • 1970: Left school in Sichuan.
  • 1976: Film debut 
  • 1979: Supporting role, The little flower.
  • 1980: Wins top national prize for best supporting actress.
  • 1986: First collaboration with Jiang Wen.
  • 1990: Goes into business.
  • 2002: Imprisoned for tax evasion.
  • 2003: Freed with a caution.
  • 2003: Plays in the television film Heroic sons and daughters of Emperor Yong Le.

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