After months of silence, disgraced Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing's fiance - actor Li Chen - has finally spoken up.
On Friday (Oct 5), two days after Fan, 37, was ordered to settle more than 884 million yuan (S$178 million) in evaded taxes and fines, Li posted on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
In his first post since early July, the 39-year-old wrote: "No matter how difficult it may be, we will get through this together."
The one-line message has garnered over a million likes and reactions and been retweeted over 274,000 times.
The official account of Li's company later retweeted the message, adding: "Same as always, through thick and thin."
Although both the messages did not make reference to Fan directly, many believe it is Li's show of commitment to the actress after months away from the spotlight. The actor had been keeping a low profile after the accusations of tax evasion against Fan intensified.
Fan, one of Chinese entertainment's most recognisable faces who topped Forbes magazine's list of top-earning Chinese celebrities last year with an income of US$43 million (S$59.4 million), has had a spectacular fall from grace.
She posted an apology note on her Weibo account on Wednesday after the authorities meted out the punishment. Although she will escape jail time if she abides by the decision, Fan's career has been marred.
Her troubles first began in May when veteran Chinese host Cui Yongyuan alleged that she had signed two contracts related to four days of work on a Feng Xiaogang film called Cell Phone 2 to avoid paying her taxes in full.
Soon after, the Chinese tax authorities began their investigation into the allegations and Fan, an avid social media user, dropped off the radar completely, her whereabouts unknown.
In the eye of the storm, Li, who proposed to Fan when she celebrated her birthday last year, kept mum throughout, never once speaking up publicly about her troubles.
This is in stark contrast to how the two usually behaved. Before Fan's scandal, the couple were one of China's most high-profile celebrity romances. They made numerous appearances together and often displayed their affection for each other publicly both onscreen and in their social media posts.
Rumours were rife that Li, who is the less famous of the two, had broken up with Fan after he reportedly appeared in a video, seemingly without his engagement ring.
Many netizens speculated that Li had ditched Fan in the midst of her woes with the authorities and criticism mounted against him.
But Li seems to have won back public sentiment with his latest post, with comments praising him as a "true man".
One netizen said: "Being with each other through thick and thin - that's how love should be."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.