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By Ryan Pickrell
A crazy conspiracy theory about Taylor Swift made its way around the internet in China recently.
With 700 million internet users, rumors travel fast in China. A particularly odd one started with Wu Xiaoping, the owner of a Chinese tech company. Once it hit cyberspace, it went viral.
“America’s number-one pop star is currently dating a middle-aged Chinese tech tycoon,” Wu revealed last week on a Chinese social media platform. The post, which was viewed more than 1.5 million times, triggered a heated discussion and a great deal of speculation among Chinese netizens, reports Buzzfeed.
Among the possible stars were Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Madonna, but Chinese internet users ultimately settled on Taylor Swift. As for the tech tycoons, Chinese netizens considered CEO of Smartisan Luo Yonghao, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan, and Chairman and CEO of Qihoo 360 Zhou Hongyi, but the internet picked Sohu CEO Charles Zhang (Zhang Chaoyang) as the most likely choice.
Chinese netizens noted reports that Swift is the highest-ranked pop star after Michael Jackson, and Swift is known for dating several high-profile individuals. Zhang is an unmarried Chinese tech tycoon. Furthermore, he is wealthy, speaks English, and has study abroad experience in the U.S.
But, Zhang is 20 years older than Swift.
The day after the rumors emerged, Zhang denied the reports. “It’s a rumor,” he explained to Bia News, “No taste for foreign women.” He also remarked that he had no idea who Taylor Swift is.
In a live stream, Zhang said that Chinese people should “learn English so that you can not only rule the world but also get with American celebrities.” His comments added fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories circulating around the internet.
Zhang’s denial was considered offensive by some Chinese internet users. One netizen said that Zhang managed to offend all “foreign women all at once” with his statement. “It is not as if Taylor would be interested in him,” another added, reports the South China Morning Post. Other netizens, including Wu Xiaoping, questioned why Zhang felt the need to deny the rumors.
Swift has a tendency to write songs about her relationships. Is Swift planning on writing a hit song about a middle-aged Chinese tech tycoon? Maybe, but probably not.