he biggest mystery in China at the moment is what has become of the country’s most famous actress, Fan Bingbing.
It has now been more than two months since the 36-year-old mega-star was seen in public. Her Weibo account, which boasts more than 62 million followers, has been silent since June 2nd, one day before the State Administration of Taxation announced that it was opening up an investigation into her tax filings.
Fan’s trouble began this year when a CCTV host accused her of signing so-called “yin-yang contracts,” wherein she would receive two separate contracts for the same project, one of which would be reported to authorities, the other would not, thus helping her sidestep millions in taxes.
While the host later retracted the accusation and Fan denied any wrongdoing, her subsequent silence has resonated far louder, igniting rampant speculation about what has become of one of China’s most recognizable people. Over the past few months, rumors have circulated that Fan has been arrested, that she has been banned from leaving China, that she has been banned from acting for three years, that her production company’s offices have been emptied, and even that she has sought asylum in the United States.
This debunked photo of Fan in hand and foot cuffs has also been making the rounds:
Interest in her mysterious disappearance piqued recently with the release of a study from Beijing Normal University which attempted to assign a “social responsibility rating” for each Chinese film and television star. Fan scored a zero out of 100. And with a report in the state-runSecurities Daily which claimed that Fan had been “placed under control and will accept the legal decision.” This report was deleted hours after it was published.
Meanwhile, more salacious gossip has also been circulating that tax evasion is really just the tip of the iceberg of Fan’s legal troubles and that she has somehow seriously upset China’s top leadership. Over the years, rumors have popped up again and again that Fan has slept with Wang Qishan, formerly China’s anti-corruption tsar.
Fan Bingbing has been China’s highest-paid celebrity for the past four years, according toForbes, taking in 300 million yuan ($46.8 million) last year. The 36-year-old actress’ first breakout film role came in Cell Phoneback in 2003. She has since gone on to act in Hollywood blockbusters likeX-Men: Days of Future Past.
It was only a few years ago that her biggest problem with Chinese authorities appeared to be her cleavage. Those were more innocent days.