Dhaka, Sep 14 (Just News): Fan Bingbing, an A-list Chinese movie star who has appeared in the “X-Men” and “Iron Man” film franchises, has more than 62 million followers online in China and fronted campaigns for Montblanc watches and De Beers diamonds, has disappeared.
The star’s vanishing act - she dropped off the radar in June when reports started to swirl that she was involved in a probe into tax evasion in the film industry - has sparked wild speculation in China about her fate, including reports the actress had been detained.
Reuters was unable to contact Fan. Calls to her agent went unanswered. When asked about Fan, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry replied: “Do you think this is a question of diplomacy?” The Beijing Public Security Bureau declined to comment.
The real-life drama has been playing out at a time when Beijing is tightening the reins on popular culture, looking to stamp out behaviour seen as going against the ruling Communist Party’s ideological line and co-opting movie stars, pop bands and online celebrities to endorse socialist values.
“It is written in our new movie promotion law that entertainers need to pursue both professional excellence and moral integrity,” said Si Ruo, a researcher at the School of Journalism and Communication at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.
“In the unbridled growth of the industry in the past few years, we might have overlooked the need for positive energy, so the government’s intervention is reasonable.”
Fan Bingbing is the most prominent example. The actress, 36, is China’s equivalent of Hollywood star Jennifer Lawrence. She topped Forbes’ China celebrity rich list last year with earnings of 300 million yuan ($43.78 million).
A Chinese TV anchor in May was widely reported to have posted tax-dodging pay agreements online known as “yin-yang” contracts - one setting out the real agreed payment terms and a second with a lower figure for the tax authorities - that appeared to implicate Fan.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that Fan’s studio denied she had ever signed separate contracts for a single job. China’s tax bureau said in June it was launching a tax evasion investigation into the film and television industry.