A Shanghai court has ruled that actress Zheng Shuang, due to insufficient assets, cannot pay 90.5 million yuan (US$12.5 million) compensation for breaching her contract with a film company.

According to East Money, the Shanghai Songjiang District People’s Court announced on Monday that Zheng lacks the necessary assets to cover the compensation owed to the claimant, a film and television investment entity located in Haining, Zhejiang province, East China.

The total compensation includes 30.5 million yuan that Zheng received for her role in the project and an additional 60 million yuan in damages.

Photo: Instagram/Zheng Shuang

Legal infractions, tax evasion, and involvement in surrogacy

The dispute between Zheng and the company began three years ago when the film company accused her of legal infractions, including tax evasion and involvement in surrogacy, leading to the disruption of the “Jade Lover” TV series production, in which Zheng was cast as the lead.

The court found that Zheng’s actions resulted in a ban from broadcast appearances, preventing the TV series from being aired. Consequently, in 2023, the court ordered Zheng to compensate the plaintiff.

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Before facing legal issues, Zheng, 33, was a prominent actress in China.

Surrogacy controversy

The surrogacy controversy surrounding Zheng came to light in 2021 when her former partner, Zhang Heng, 34, disclosed their surrogacy arrangements in the U.S. and accused her of planning to abandon the child amid their deteriorating relationship.

While surrogacy is prohibited in China, some Chinese nationals exploit legal loopholes to engage in surrogacy abroad, a practice that often faces criticism domestically.

In addition to the surrogacy scandal, Zheng was fined 299 million yuan for tax evasion in the same year.

Dishonest citizen

Reports suggest that she has moved to the U.S. and is classified as a “dishonest citizen.” She faces restrictions on her personal spending, including bans on booking flights, high-speed train tickets, and stays in five-star hotels.

In February, Zheng revealed that she was living off her parents’ retirement funds and expressed her desire to earn money to settle her debts as per the court’s order.