Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse arrive for the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards in Hong Kong on April 17, 2011. [File Photo: CFP]
Rumors have been running rampant that Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse, one of the hottest Chinese celebrity couples, are nearing a divorce. Local newspapers and Websites have been carrying such headlines as "Nicholas Tse asks Cecilia to move out;" "Tse-Cheung fairytale is over;" or even more explicitly, "Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse divorced."
Neither Cheung nor Tse have said whether they have broken up, but Tse did issue a statement on May 30, via his agent, saying he never asked for a separation, and accusing a Hong Kong newspaper of libel.
The words Tse used in his statement are ambiguous. They seem to emphasize that it was not him to be blamed for Cheung's moving out, as Hong Kong media pointed out that Cheung did leave Tse's property to live in a rented house.
What's really going on between the couple? What has led to the divorce rumors? Let's take a look at two of the most likely guesses.
Guess One: Property
Hong Kong radio show host Cha Siu-yan, who claims to be a close friend of the Tse family, is the most cited source for the couple's problem.
Cha has said that the seemingly-happy couple had long been involved in a dispute over property. She dismissed rumors that the couple had divorced, but continued about the property dispute, saying that Cheung had asked Tse to transfer ownership of all his properties, including a villa Tse bought for his father, under her name.
"It seems as though Cecilia wants to drain Nicholas of all his assets and property - when I heard this news about Cecilia, I actually didn't really believe it myself," Cha said at her radio show.
Guess Two: Edison Chen
The man who challenged Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse's marriage years ago is involved again.
In early 2008, a sex photo scandal that involved singer-actor Edison Chen and several female stars, Cecilia Cheung being one, shocked the Chinese entertainment circle. It turned out that Edison Chen, who had had intimate relationships with the stars, saved the photos in his computer, and the photos were retrieved and leaked online when Chen took in the computer for maintenance.
By the time of the scandal, Cecilia Cheung had been married to Tse for two years. Their first son, Lucas, was already born.
The media showed great sympathy for Tse as they imagined what he had to go through. An emotional Cecilia Cheung also appeared at a televised interview, calling Edison Chen's apology a fake gesture.
As Edison Chen faded from the spotlight, Cheung and Tse seemed to get over the scandal. In May 2010, their second son, Quintus, was born.
After giving birth to Quintus, Cheung launched a high-profile comeback to her acting career, signing on to star in several films. The contracts reportedly made her the top-earning actress in Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, on May 8, Cecilia Cheung ran into Edison Chen on a plane from Taipei to Hong Kong. Reports say Cheung voluntarily asked to switch her seat to the one next to Chen's. The two enjoyed the reunion by chitchatting and posing for photos.
However, Cheung strongly denied the reunion, saying the media was making up stories, but Edison Chen's agent confirmed that the encounter and the chatting were all true.
This airborne episode seemed to have an impact on Nicholas Tse, who was apart from Cecilia Cheung on her 31st birthday on May 24, while Cheung spent the day with her son and friends in Taipei.
What is the couple doing amidst the rumors?
Cecilia Cheung is working on a romantic film, "Repeat, I Love You", in Shenzhen in southern China. In the film, she acts alongside South Korean heartthrob Kwon Sang-woo.
However, Cheung was absent from the movie's press conference on May 27, causing wide speculations that her absence was due to her marriage crisis.
Nicholas Tse, on the other hand, is filming the action film "Against War" in Malaysia.
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