Chinese Superstar Sues Doppelganger for Using Her Looks for Financial Gains

Fan Bingbing, a popular actress, model, singer, and China’s highest-paid celebrity for the last four years, is suing one of her doppelgangers for relying on her looks to sell products during online streams.

In many cases, looking like a popular celebrity can be considered a blessing, but in the case of one doppelganger of Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing, this turned out to be more than a curse. Up until September of last year, 32-year-old Chen Xinling had been able to use her striking resemblance to Fan Bingbing to build a strong following on a series of Chinese streaming platforms and even start a lucrative business selling products on Chinese e-commerce site Taobao. But the dream turned into a nightmare when Chen discovered that her uncanny resemblance to Fan Bingbing was actually a legal liability.

Photo: Chen Xinling

The Chinese superstar accused the young streamer of using her appearance and popularity to sell beauty products and treatments online, and demanded that Chen change her online name, pay a hefty compensation and issue a public apology every day for a minimum of 60 days, among others.

While Chen didn’t use the celebrity’s full name, her online streaming handle was Fan Yebing, which was apparently too similar to Fan Bingbing. However, Chen told the South China Morning Post that she believes she has been singled out because of her popularity and resemblance to Bingbing, as there are plenty of other streamers who call themselves “Fan Bingbing”.

Fan Bingbing (Photo: CookieKiki/Wikimedia Commons)

Since the lawsuit began, in September of 2020, Chen Xinling has been trying to distance herself from the Fan Bingbing brand in every way she could, changing her online name and even going under the knife to make herself look less like the woman she calls her “idol”.

Chen insists that it wasn’t her resemblance to Fan Bingbing that made over 1 million people follow her on the Taobao live-streaming platform, but her personality and involvement in the community.

Photo: Chen Xinling

“I remember the names and birthdays of my hardcore fans,” Chen Xinling said. “I do live-streams for an average of 10 hours a day, on over 350 days a year. Unlike famousĀ  key opinion leaders (KOLs) who have a team helping them, I only have one assistant. I have to do online research about the products for several hours every day as not-very-famous KOLs like me have to verbally promote a product for half an hour to one hour before it is sold. I also intersperse my sales pitch with talk about my life to make it less commercial.”

It’s unclear how much weight these arguments will have in court, but if Fan Bingbing record so far is anything to go by, her doppelganger should be very worried. Records show that by 2018, the celebrity had already been involved in five lawsuits over the unlawful use of her appearance, all of which she had won.

Photo: Chen Xinling