Celebrated Chinese pianist Li Yundi has been detained for soliciting a prostitute, state media has said.
A 39-year-old and a sex worker, 29, have confessed to the illegal activity, Beijing police said in an online post. They were caught after authorities received tip-offs from the public.
While the police did not publish his full name in the notice, state media outlets later confirmed it to be Li.
The news has shocked many fans of the man known as China’s “Piano Prince”.
At just 18, Li became the youngest pianist – and the first Chinese person – to win first prize at the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000.
He has gone on to perform all around the world and is a household name in the Chinese speaking world.
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“Oh my god, I can’t believe it. Is this really the same Li Yundi that we admire so much?”, one person wrote on the Twitter-like platform Weibo.
Others expressed scepticism at how he was caught.
“I’m curious to know how the public found out about him. When you see a 39-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman go into an apartment building together, how did people know that it’s a prostitute and her customer? Why not a married couple, friends, hookup buddies?”, a Weibo comment read.
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After the news broke, the Chinese Musicians’ Association said that it would revoke Li’s membership as he represents “extremely negative social impact”.
Some observers said that his detention could be seen as a warning to other “immoral” celebrities as China ramps up its recent crackdown on the entertainment industry
Under Chinese law, those who solicit or manage sex workers can be detained for up to 15 days and fined up to 5,000 yuan ($782).