Gong Li split from S’porean husband 3 years ago: report

After more than a decade of marriage, Singaporean businessman Ooi Hoe Seong confirmed on Wednesday that he and Chinese actress Gong Li had divorced three years ago, reported West China City Daily.

The couple had married in 1996, but had rarely been seen in public.

When probed on the cause of their marriage breakdown, Ooi maintained that they rarely quarreled in their 13 years of marriage, but ultimately decided to split because of the lack of time spent together.

"We decided to divorce because of the differences in our schedules. Since she's an actress, she often has to travel overseas for shoots while I'm a businessman who needs to travel for work as well. Both of us are always almost in different countries," he was quoted by the mainland China paper as saying.

Eventually, there was more friendship than romance in their relationship, he said, before adding that there were no disputes between them over asset division.

Ooi also stressed that they still remain close friends and keep in touch via phone calls.

According to the Chinese daily, Ooi remained cordial throughout the interview and never once spoke ill of his former wife. In fact, he even praised Gong's character and acting skills and asked for the media to support her.

Gong dating French cameraman?

Ooi also shot down rumours of Gong co-living with a French cameraman -- who is 13 years her junior -- for six years.

"These online reports are inaccurate and are hurting Gong Li," he told the paper. "We only formally split in 2009, which makes it three years since we separated -- not six. And during that period, Gong has been taking care of the household."

However, he admitted that he has never met Gong's alleged French boyfriend, but said that he wished her all the best if the rumours are true.

Talk of the couple's troubles went into overdrive when local Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao quoted the 46-year-old as saying that she preferred staying in hotels whenever she visits Singapore.

Besides her marriage troubles, the Asian actress also drew flak in 2008 when she decided to take up Singapore citizenship, sparking a mostly negative reaction in China -- with many branding the actress a traitor for abandoning her Chinese citizenship.

But Ooi defended his former spouse. The paper quoted him as saying, "Gong really loves China and all her relatives are in China. So it doesn't matter where she goes as that won't change her 'Chinese spirit'."

Gong catapulted to fame with a series of critically acclaimed blockbusters directed by Zhang Yimou such as "Red Sorghum" and "To Live". She was also voted in 2006 as China's most beautiful woman.