One of the top actresses in China has not been seen in public since June, disappearing without a trace.
Fan Bingbing, one of that nation’s highest-paid and most bankable stars, is well-known to Hollywood audiences, having appeared in the X-Men franchise and other western films.
In China, Bingbing is one of the top celebrities, launched in thousands of ads and affiliated with top luxury brands. Time magazine called her China’s most famous actress in 2015, and she was a red carpet regular at major awards.
All that changed in June, when she noted on social media that she was visiting a children’s hospital in Tibet. Since that post, she vanished without a trace, and speculation is building that it may be related to a tax evasion matter.
A clue to her whereabouts came on September 6th, when an article in Securities Daily, part of the state-run media, said she had been brought “under control and about to receive legal judgment.” The article was then deleted.
The government has been mum on any such actions, and no criminal charges have been brought against the actress or anyone associated with her disappearance.
Speculation has started that her absence is related to tax evasion matters.
“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,” Fergus Ryan, a cyber analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told CNN.
There is precedent for the alleged Bingbing situation. Ai Weiwei, a well-known Chinese artist, was detained for three months in 2011. He was later released after signing a confession related to tax evasion.
Bingbing’s purported problems began when alleged copies of a film contract she had signed were leaked onto China’s social media in late May.
A Chinese tabloid, Global Times, leaked a contract of Bingbing’s onto the net. The leak showed she had two different contracts – one showing she was paid $1.5 million (10 million yuan), the other for $7.5 million (50 million yuan). The two contracts are part of what is known in China as “yin-yang contracts,” in which the smaller of the two is reported for tax purposes.
Bingbing’s representatives denied the existance of the two contracts, even as authorities called for an investigation. But since then, she has not been seen.