Fan Bingbing was in 2015 described by Time magazine as China’s “most famous actress”. Yet she has not been seen in public since June when her official social-media account, on a solely Chinese platform, posted a visit she made to a children’s hospital in Tibet. No official source has given any suggestion in regards to her whereabouts but many are pointing towards suspected tax evasion and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) crackdown on celebrity corruption.
The first piece of evidence to support this is the leaking of a film contract by a TV presenter Cui Yongyuan, a social media post that was soon deleted. The state tabloid Global Times reported on it as being a dual-contract commonly referred to as a ‘yin-yang contract’. This refers to the two contracts, one presented to the government that is therefore tax deductible and one personal contract that the government would have otherwise been unaware of. Then in September the Beijing Normal University published a report on ‘social responsibility’ where prominent celebrities given a rating and Bingbing was ranked last at 0 out of 100.
Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous artist, was detained for 3 months in 2011 by the government citing similar issues of tax evasion. Upon release he had signed a confession related to tax evasion and his treatment has contributed to the suspicion surrounding Bingbing’s withdrawal.
Many consider her disappearance and poor ‘social responsibility’ ranking to be the government making her an example of their crackdown on corruption in the Chinese film industry, in part as a result of the public nature of the contract leakage. It is also likely that it is an attempt to divert attention from the rumoured exploitation within the government itself.
Law, PPE and Politics students should consider the manner in which the CCP is using Bingbing’s treatment as a deterrent for others in China’s creative industries and how anachronistic their desire to promote the ‘Chinese dream’ is with the inevitable income divide that they wish to denounce.