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The Globe and Mail

Famous Chinese women: They've come a long way

Most are torn between ideals of the past and the present, but some Chinese women (like the new Miss World, above) enjoy a degree of celebrity that makes them immune to such tensions – as long as their fame lasts, of course

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YAO CHEN: Microblogger and actress, called China’s Lady Gaga for her legion of Weibo followers (21 million), only her sexuality is in no doubt and she keeps her clothes on.

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ZHANG ZIYI: Best known in the West, where she has starred in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha, she is considered one of China’s top four actresses, along with Zhao Wei (also known as Vicki Zhao), Xu Jinglei and Chanel face Zhou Xun.

KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AP

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DU JUAN: A Shanghai supermodel who was the first Chinese model photographed for the cover of French Vogue, by Mario Testino in 2005.

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FAN BINGBING: Beloved in China for her doe eyes and her charitable works, she’s known as Fan Ye (Ye from the character for grandfather) for both her strong personality and her giving nature. Her recent admission that she is in love was headline news.

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GU KAILAI: Before her conviction this week for poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, the wife of fallen politician Bo Xilai was a celebrated lawyer and power broker with a sharp fashion sense. Her dowdy, puffy appearance in court signalled the end of that persona, although her actions have been defended as a bid to protect her son from blackmail.

STRINGER/CHINA/REUTERS

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GUO MEIMEI: A 20-year-old online celebrity, she single-handedly ignited a storm of controversy over corruption and graft at the Chinese Red Cross for her photos of luxury cars and clothes, care of her boyfriend’s position in the organization. He was fired.

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LIU WEI: The first Chinese model for Victoria’s Secret, now a catwalk supermodel and part of the most recent Estée Lauder campaign.

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YANG LAN: Nicknamed the Oprah of China, a businesswoman and talk-show host also famous for her wealthy husband, media mogul Bruno Wu.

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MAGGIE CHEUNG: A Hong Konger with family roots in Shanghai, Ms. Cheung is a former beauty pageant contestant who went on to success as a model and film actor.

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