A lady vanishes: In China, a movie star disappears amid culture crackdown

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Fan Bingbing, an A-list Chinese movie star who has appeared inside “X-Men” in addition to “Iron Man” film franchises, has more than 62 million followers online in China in addition to fronted campaigns for Montblanc watches in addition to De Beers diamonds, has disappeared.

FILE PHOTO: Director Wang Xiaoshuai (R) in addition to cast member Fan Bingbing attend a news conference for the film “Rizhao Chongqing” at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, France May 13, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The star’s vanishing act – she dropped off the radar in June when reports started off to swirl which she was involved in a probe into tax evasion inside 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 which is actually 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 actually tightening the reins on well-liked culture, looking to stamp out behavior seen as going against the ruling Communist Party’s ideological line in addition to co-opting movie stars, pop bands in addition to online celebrities to endorse socialist values.

“which is actually written in our fresh movie promotion law which entertainers need to pursue both professional excellence in addition to moral integrity,” said Si Ruo, a researcher at the School of Journalism in addition to Communication at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.

“inside unbridled growth of the industry inside past few years, we might have overlooked the need for positive energy, so the government’s intervention is actually reasonable.”

Fan Bingbing is actually the most prominent example. The actress, 36, is actually 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 in addition to a second which has a lower figure for the tax authorities – which appeared to implicate Fan.

FILE PHOTO: 71st Cannes Film Festival – Screening of the film “Ash is actually Purest White” (Jiang hu er nv) in competition – Red Carpet Arrivals – Cannes, France, May 11, 2018. Fan Bingbing poses. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported which Fan’s studio denied she had ever signed separate contracts for one particular job. China’s tax bureau said in June which was launching a tax evasion investigation into the film in addition to television industry.


although the culture clean-up is actually more widespread, snaring video games, online bloggers in addition to rap artists. Critics say which threatens to stifle creativity in some sectors, in addition to is actually hitting the bottom lines of firms such as tech in addition to gaming giant Tencent.

State-run media have begun using phrases such as “tainted artists”, with official bodies pledging to ban stars who behave badly, including drug taking, gambling or visiting prostitutes.

An open letter earlier which month via members of the Beijing Trade Association for Performances said the body would likely “purify” the city’s entertainment in addition to performance sector in addition to guide artists towards “core socialist values”.

“Celebrities are seen as a weapon inside Party’s ideological battle, which is actually fought across all sectors all the time,” said Jonathan Sullivan, Director of China Programmes at the University of Nottingham.

China has long sought to control the creative arts, via censoring movies to literature. However, a boom in online media has prompted a fresh push to cleanse the arts world, as President Xi Jinping looks to tighten his grip over a huge in addition to diverse cultural scene well-liked with China’s youth.

which drive has created a dragnet which has swept over the creative arts, leaving few unaffected.

Fangu, a grunge band via Beijing, which has toured across China, said which had hit an issue with its name, which translates literally as “anti-bone”, though means something closer to “rebellious spirit”.

Fan Bingbing poses on a pier at the photocall for the film “355” at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The band was forced to change its name which week ahead of a concert in Shanghai.

“The relevant bodies do not allow the word ‘anti’ so we have to change the name temporarily,” Qi Tian, an assistant to the band, told Reuters.

Video game makers have had to tweak their offerings to add patriotic Chinese elements. Others have simply seen approvals withheld. Big media platforms have been rapped for not censoring their content enough in addition to some have had to take sites offline.

A report which month via a state university in addition to circulated in official media, ranked Chinese stars in order of their social responsibility, including their moral conduct – underscoring an increasingly puritanical focus on Great behavior.

Fan came in last place with zero points.

The ongoing shake-up is actually also hitting China’s burgeoning movie in addition to entertainment industry hard. Share prices of related companies tanked after the government probe was announced in addition to many are conducting self-checks on their tax situations.

Claire Dong, partner in addition to attorney at Beijing-based Tiantai law firm, said there has been a surge of consulting requests since Fan got into hot water.

fresh policies are swiftly eroding the favorable tax treatment which actors in addition to artists once enjoyed.

“which is actually what the government needed to do,” Dong said. “The government needed to guide the actors to be more focused on acting, not money producing.” ($1 = 6.8528 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Editing by John Ruwitch in addition to Alex Richardson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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