A hugely popular actress in the communist nation of China has not been seen or heard from by the public since June, and there are mounting concerns that she have run afoul of her nation’s government.
Fan Bingbing, who recently appeared in an “X-Men” franchise movie and has been seen in other Western films, vanished in June after announcing on social media that she’d be visiting a children’s hospital, and there are no reports as to her whereabouts or activities since then.
According to Deadline Hollywood, Bingbing is arguably China’s highest-paid movie stars and one of the country’s top celebrities.
Aside from appearing in Western films like the “X-Men” franchise and making regular red carpet appearances at major award shows, she is also affiliated with numerous luxury brands and featured in thousands of advertisements in China. In fact, Bingbing was named China’s most famous actress in 2015.
Speculation of tax evasion
However, following a social media post about visiting a children’s hospital in neighboring Tibet — which is controversially claimed by the Chinese government — she has not been seen or heard from since, and now speculation is growing that the Chinese government has taken her into custody over alleged tax evasion.
That speculation stems from an article from Chinese tabloid Global Times in May which leaked what were claimed to be two different contracts signed by Bingbing, one for $1.5 million and another for $7.5 million, a charge flatly denied by Bingbing’s representatives.
There is reportedly a common scheme in China known as “yin-yang contracts” in which two contracts are signed for the same thing, with the smaller of the two being reported for tax purposes.
The speculation about the reason for Bingbing’s sudden disappearance was fueled in September by a since-deleted article in the state-run media outlet Securities Daily, which stated that Bingbing had been brought “under control” and was “about to receive legal judgment.”
Bingbing being quietly taken into custody by the Chinese government for alleged tax evasion would not be unprecedented in the communist nation, as a popular Chinese artist named Ai Weiwei was detained for three months in 2011 and only released after he had signed a confession admitting to tax evasion.
Fergus Ryan, a cyber analyst for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said in a recent interview with CNN, “If you are a billionaire, then that is something that obviously you can enjoy to a certain extent, but you’ve got to be very, very wary that you don’t at any stage cross a red line of some sort and fall afoul of the Chinese Communist Party.”
At this time, the Chinese government hasn’t said anything about Bingbing or her disappearance, and no criminal charges have been brought against her or anyone else associated with her since she vanished in June.
It remains to be seen if she will eventually reemerge in public — either after having been released by her government or is found to have been hiding out in another country — and if she will be in any trouble once she has made a return to the public eye.