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Rumors are rampant that Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi and Nicholas Tse Ting-fung, who are among Hong Kong's hottest celebrity couples, are close to divorce.
Local newspapers and websites have been carrying such headlines as ``Nicholas Tse asks Cecilia to move out;'' ``Tse-Cheung fairytale is over;'' and even ``Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse divorced.''
Neither Cheung nor Tse have said whether they have broken up, but Tse did issue a statement on Monday, via his agent, saying he has never asked for a separation, and accusing a Hong Kong newspaper of libel.
The words Tse used in his statement are ambiguous. They seem to emphasize that he is not to blame for Cheung moving out. Hong Kong media earlier claimed Cheung had left Tse's property to live in a rented house.
What's really going on between the couple? What has led to the divorce rumors? Let's take a look at two of the most likely guesses.
Guess One: Property
Hong Kong radio show host Eileen Cha Siu-yan, who claims to be a close friend of the Tse family, is the most cited source on the couple's problems.
Cha has said that the seemingly happy couple have long been involved in a dispute over property. She dismissed rumors that they have divorced, but said Cheung has asked Tse, 30, to transfer ownership of all his properties, including a villa Tse bought for his father, under her name.
``It seems as though Cecilia wants to drain Nicholas of all his assets and property - when I heard this news about Cecilia, I actually didn't really believe it myself,'' Cha said on her show.
Guess Two: Edison Chen Koon-hei
The man who challenged the Cheung and Tse marriage years ago is involved again.
In early 2008, a sex-photo scandal that involved singer-actor Chen and several female stars, Cheung included, shocked entertainment circles. It turned out that Chen, 30, who had intimate relationships with the stars, saved the photos in his computer, and they were retrieved and leaked online when he took the machine in for maintenance.
When the scandal was made public, Cheung had been married to Tse for two years, and had a son, Lucas.
The media showed great sympathy for Tse as they imagined what he had to go through. An emotional Cheung also appeared on TV, describing an apology by Chen as a fake gesture.
As Chen faded from the spotlight, Cheung and Tse seemed to get over the scandal. In May 2010, their second son, Quintus, was born.
After giving birth to Quintus, Cheung launched a high-profile comeback in her acting career, signing on to star in several films. The contracts reportedly made her the top-earning Hong Kong actress.
Last month, Cheung is reported to have run into Chen on an aircraft traveling from Taipei to Hong Kong.
Reports say Cheung voluntarily asked to switch her seat to the one next to Chen. The two enjoyed the reunion by chit-chatting and posing for photos. Cheung strongly denied the reunion, saying the media invented the story, but Chen's agent confirmed the encounter had taken place.
This alleged airborne episode seemed to have an impact on Tse, who was apart from Cheung when she turned 31 on May 24. She spent the day with her son and friends in Taipei.
Cheung is working on a romantic film, Repeat, I Love You, in Shenzhen, with South Korean heartthrob Kwon Sang Woo.
However, Cheung was absent from the movie's press conference on Friday, fanning speculation that her absence was due to marital problems.
Meanwhile, Tse is filming an action film, Against War, in Malaysia. XINHUA


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