China’s top-paid actress Fan Bingbing has been completely absent from the public for over three months following accusations of tax evasion. On September 6, a report by the Chinese state-run Securities Daily confirmed that she had been placed “under control” and could face legal consequences, a few hours after which the report was deleted from the site.
And on September 11, Fan received a score of zero in the 2017-18 China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report, which judged Chinese actors based on their “professional work, charitable actions, and personal integrity,” and whether they’re a “strong role model” or have a “negative” effect on China, according to China Daily, which is also controlled by the communist authorities.
Fan Bingbing is 36 and comes from the city of Qingdao in Shandong Province. Her first famous role was in the drama Returning Pearl Princess, also known as My Fair Princess, a series set in 18th-century China that became a hit throughout Asia in the late 1990s.
Since then, she has had roles in dozens of films and TV programs, including Hollywood titles like X-Men: Days of Future Past. But the current scandal she is currently embroiled in will likely spell the end of her career.
Prior to her disappearance, Fan had been accused by Chinese TV host Cui Yongyuan of signing so-called “yin-yang contracts” worth about US$10 million. A yin-yang contract, referring to the traditional concept of light and dark universal forces, is an agreement that hides part of a payment from the tax authorities.
The contracts that Fan signed were for the upcoming film Cell Phone II, Cui said. On June 4, he retracted his statements and issued an apology to the actress, who had disappeared by then.
Fan’s last known statement was posted on June 2 to her Weibo social media page. After that, there were many rumors about her whereabouts, the most common being that she was simply detained by the authorities or put under house arrest.
In early August, the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times reported that the authorities afforded Fan comfortable living arrangements — save the fact that she was under round-the-clock surveillance.
According to The Epoch Times, some observers say that Fan Bingbing — and the hundreds of other entertainment industry workers who have come under government scrutiny since her disappearance — are being used as convenient scapegoats for the Chinese Communist Party as a means of recouping losses incurred by squandering money on wasteful and unpredictable projects.