TFBoys: Wang Yuan sorry over illegal smoking

Wang Yuan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wang Yuan was caught illegally smoking in a restaurant

One of China's biggest boybanders has apologised after he was caught smoking illegally in a Beijing restaurant.

Wang Yuan, who also uses the English name Roy Wang, is considered to be one of the country's most "socially responsible" public figures, so this transgression has caused Chinese social media to fall into meltdown.

Wang Yuan's timing isn't ideal as China's government has stepped up a campaign to make it extremely difficult for celebrities to have any positive comeback if they are seen to do something that might negatively impact the country's youth population.

Punishment due

Beijing Health Supervision Authority has issued a statement saying that "smoking is prohibited in public places, indoor workplaces and on public transportation."

It says that the city's local health agency is conducting an investigation and that Wang will be "punished according to law".

The 18-year-old was caught puffing on a lit cigarette in the image shared by Sohu Entertainment on its social media channels. He was apparently out with fellow stars, the actor Jia Nailiang and singer Yang Chaoyue at the restaurant, which the Beijing Youth Daily has identified as Japanese restaurant Sushi Tong.

Wang Yuan's apology on Weibo - where he has more than 72 million followers - has had hundreds of thousands of replies.

The singer, who is also a Unicef Special Advocate for Education and was one of Time Magazine's "30 most influential teens of 2017" says: "This incident has made me deeply reflect on my own behaviour and I am very sorry and embarrassed about the adverse social impact that I have created".

He adds that he will bear responsibility and accept punishment for his actions.

Image copyright TFBoys/Weibo
Image caption Wang Yuan took to social media to apologise about the contents of the picture

The teenager's reputation so far has been rather squeaky clean and besides being a singer, songwriter, television host and actor, his reputation is based on his activism and charitable work.

Comments are coming fast and thick with the hashtag #RoyWangSmokes being used more than 369,000 times, while #RoyWangApologises appears on Weibo more than 1.3m times

But in recent months, any whiff of a celebrity scandal, no matter how seemingly small it is, has seen Weibo users seek immediate action against the culprit - and broadcast/print media responding brutally by ensuring that such celebrities are pulled off the airwaves.

Image copyright VCG/Getty
Image caption Wang Yuan, on the right, is a member of China's biggest boy band, along with (L-R) Jackson Yee (aka Yi Yangqianxi) and Karry Wang Junkai

The teenager has got a huge fan base, so lots of Weibo users are commending him for "recognising his mistakes".

Some are also calling on him to take better care of himself, noting the pressures he must be under in the public eye.

But others are delighting at the dilemma this creates for the authorities, with one saying "the image of CCTV's youth representative has collapsed".

Others are commenting on the bad example he sets to young people. But there's a lot of wider discussion over whether, in his case, celebrities can bounce back, and whether anyone in the public eye can make a mistake anymore.

Meanwhile he's not the only one in trouble. The Beijing Youth Daily paper says that the local authorities have investigated and found that the Sushi Tong restaurant "violated relevant requirements".

The restaurant has been ordered to make corrections within a time limit, or else "be dealt with according to law".

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