Celebrity scandal is the tinder that feeds the flames of Chinese social media. Thanks to COVID-19, the heat has been turned down for much of the past year. But last week, one of the more sordid uproars in recent memory stoked the embers.

The episode involved Zheng Shuang, one of China’s most popular actresses. Recently, her ex-boyfriend said on social media that she had abandoned him with two surrogate children in the U.S.

Chinese media soon dug up birth certificates for the kids that named Zheng as a parent. Then someone leaked conversations — recorded after the couple had split, but before the kids were born — in which Zheng and her parents allegedly discussed what to do with the now-unwanted children. Options they considered included abandonment, adoption and abortion.