Former glamor actress met with Honduran president as China sought diplomatic ties


Diana Pang tells a pro-Beijing newspaper that she was ‘doing her bit’ to help Chinese business initiatives.

Former glamor actress met with Honduran president as China sought diplomatic ties

Chinese actress Diana Peng arrives at the opening ceremony of the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai, China, in 2013.

A former Hong Kong actress known for her roles in softcore adult movies and horror flicks played the role of “unofficial diplomat” in China’s bid to woo Honduras away from diplomatic relations with Taiwan, she told a pro-Beijing newspaper.

In an exclusive interview with the Sing Tao Daily, Diana Pang, 50, said she had recently made a trip to Honduras to “promote business links” and met with President Xiomara Castro, who told her she was planning to switch diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.

“It was necessary to help the Chinese business community gain a foothold in Honduras,” said Pang, who later went on to act and direct in pro-government films in mainland China. “Everyone needs to do their bit to aid the Chinese diplomatic effort.”

Beijing has been stepping up its campaign to isolate Taiwan diplomatically since President Tsai Ing-wen, whose growing ties with U.S. officials has prompted military saber-rattling from the People’s Liberation Army, was elected in 2016. 

Taiwan now has formal relations with only 13 countries, including Belize, Nauru and the Vatican, after Kiribati and the Solomon Islands broke off diplomatic ties with Taipei last year. Honduras announced it would switch ties as Tsai began a trip to Latin America that will wind up with a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The interview with Pang was published days after a meeting between Chinese Vice President Han Zheng and Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina in Beijing, right at the start of Tsai’s tour of the Americas.

Beijing insists that its diplomatic partners accept its claim on Taiwan, which it calls the “one China” policy, effectively forcing them to cut ties with the democratic island.

But Taiwan’s 23 million people have repeatedly shown through public opinion polls that they have no wish to give up their sovereignty or democratic way of life to be ruled by the Chinese Communist Party.

Think tank dean

Taiwanese national security researcher Shih Chien-yu noted that Pang also recently made an appearance at China’s prestigious Bo’ao Economic Forum and was appointed dean of the Beijing-based International Economic Strategy Research Institute, a think tank set up in November.

“It’s kind of incredible that she is now a dean of this institution,” Shih said. “A lot of media are speculating about her meteoric rise from Hong Kong porn star to research institute director.”

“What actual qualifications does she have for the role?” Shih asked. “I think Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party should take the trouble to investigate.”

In her interview, Pang called on the Hong Kong movie industry to play a role in “telling good contemporary stories” and to act as a cultural bridge between China and the rest of the world. 

She predicted that “diplomatic recognition of China will become a global trend,” adding that she shrugs off the labels “porn star” and “red movie star” alike.

Using celebrities

Pang was born in the south-central city of Changsha in 1972, while her grandfather was deputy mayor of Zunyi city. 

She went to live in the United States at the age of 14, where she won a slew of beauty pageants including “Miss China” and “Miss Asia.”

In 2013, she was appointed to the People’s Political Consultative Conference – a political advisory body that includes loyal celebrities among its delegates – for the western province of Gansu in 2013.

“[Pang] is someone who has experienced a resurgence in fortunes in the new era [since Xi took power],” he said. “Her star is rising because she has deliberately set out to collaborate with the government.”

Celebrities like Pang are increasingly being co-opted by the ruling party’s outreach and influence arm, the United Front Work Department, said commentator Bi Xin.

“In China, former artists and celebrities can wind up with a slew of different job titles,” Bi said. “On the other hand, they can bring you down just by charging you with a crime, such as drug use or prostitution.”

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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