Fan Binbin, one of China’s highest paid and most profitable stars, has appeared in both Chinese and Western films, including the multi-million dollar x-Men franchise.
Across the country, her face was once adorned with thousands of advertisements, her star power being used to sell a galaxy of luxury brands, from Cartier to Louis Vuitton. She regularly attended major exhibitions and fashion ceremonies. In 2015, Time magazine named her “the most famous actress in China”.
But the movie star hasn’t been seen publicly since early June, when, according to a report on her verified social media account, she went to a children’s hospital in Tibet, CNN reports. In an article by Media Securities Daily on September 6, which was later removed, the publication said that Fan Binbin was taken “under control and awaiting a court decision.”
No official statements about the whereabouts of the Fan or any potential criminal charges against the actress were made.
However, in a country where top celebrities are forced to keep a harmless public profile to stay in favor of the Chinese government, people have made their own conclusions about the actress’s location.
“If you’re a billionaire, then you can only enjoy it to a certain extent, you have to be very, very careful not to cross some red line and not to affect the interests of The Chinese Communist party,” Fergus Ryan, a cyber analyst at the Australian Institute for strategic policy, told CNN.
In 2011, the country’s most famous artist, AI Weiwei, was detained for nearly three months during which his whereabouts were unclear. He was later released after signing a confession to the authorities on tax evasion.
The alleged problem the Fan started when at the end of may the social network of China have leaked alleged copy of the contract for the film, which she signed. According to the state tabloid Global Times, she had two different contracts, one for tax purposes, saying she was paid $ 1.5 million and a separate private contract for $ 7.5 million.
This is a practice known in China as” Yin-Yang contracts, ” a form of tax evasion where the first, smaller contract is reported to the authorities and the second, larger, is considered tax-free income.
The man behind the leak is a Chinese TV host Cui Hunyuan, apologized in June in front of a fan for their actions, but in the same month, the state administration of taxation of China urged investigators to examine the “Yin-Yang contracts” in the film industry of the country.
At the time, the fan team released a furious denial, but the actress was not seen publicly after the dispute.
A producer at a major Chinese Studio told CNN that the practice of having two contracts, one less to avoid paying too much tax, is” universal ” in the film industry. He said everyone was concerned about Fang’s disappearance, especially because “almost every contract has some irregularities” and won’t stand a serious check.
Like other industry insiders with whom CNN spoke, he refused to be named because of the political sensitivity of the topic.
Jonathan Landret, a former Asian editor in Beijing for the Hollywood Reporter and a longtime observer of China’s entertainment industry, told CNN that repression could be aimed at solving another problem facing the authorities. “It has long been no secret that the budget of the film-a great place to hide the money,” – said Landret. The Communist party leadership can hope that by shedding light on celebrity tax evasion, it can divert attention and avoid closer public scrutiny of rumors of corruption among senior government officials and their families, Landret told CNN.