Is China's most famous actress disappeared by the Communist Party?

Is China's most famous actress disappeared by the Communist Party?

It may sound ridiculous, or frightening, but it is the reality in China, where one of the most famous actresses of the country without a trace disappeared during an uproar over celebrity tax evasion.

Fan Bingbing, one of China's highest paid and most bankable stars, has appeared in both Chinese and Western films, including the X-Men franchise of many millions of dollars.

Throughout the country, her face once adorned thousands of ads, her star-lamp used to sell a collection of luxury brands, from Cartier to Louis Vuitton. She was a regular customer at large prize ceremonies and fashion ceremonies. In 2015 Time Magazine named her & # 39; China's most famous actress.

In an article from the state media Securities Daily of September 6, which was later deleted, the publication stated that Fan & # 39; had been brought under control and was about to make a judicial decision.

No official statement has been made regarding Fan's whereabouts or possible criminal charges against the actress.

In a country where top celebrities are forced to keep an innocent public profile to stay in the good grace of the Chinese government, people have drawn their own conclusions about the location of the actress.

"If you are a billionaire, then that is something that you obviously can enjoy to some degree, but you have to be very, very careful that you do not cross a red line of any kind at any stage and the Chinese Communist Party, "said Fergus Ryan, a cyber analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told CNN.

In 2011, the most famous artist in the country, Ai Weiwei, was detained for almost three months during which his whereabouts were unclear. He was later released after he had signed a confessional authority that was described as related to tax evasion.

Fan Bingbing and Hugh Jackman arrive at the Australian premiere of & # ;; X-Men: Days of Future Past

Yin yang contracts

The claimed problems of the fans started when alleged copies of a film contract that they had signed on the social media of China were leaked at the end of May.

According to the State's tabloid Global Times, she had two different contracts, one for tax purposes, saying she had paid $ 1.5 million (10 million yuan) and a separate private contract for $ 7.5 million (50 million yuan).
It is a practice known in China as & # 39; yin-yang contracts & # 39 ;, a form of tax evasion where the first, smaller contract is reported to the authorities, while the second, larger is treated as tax-free income.
The man behind the leak, the Chinese TV presenter Cui Yongyuan, apologized to Fan in June for his actions, but the same month the China State Administration urged researchers to investigate allegations of yin-yang contracts in the US. film industry of the country.
The American actor Will Smith (L) and the Chinese actress Fan Bingbing pose at their arrival on 23 May 2017 at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

At the time Fan's team gave a furious denial, but the actress has not been seen in public since the dispute.

In September, the Chinese University of Beijing published a report, praised as the first & # 39; in the world & # 39; and heavily promoted in Chinese state media, who ranked the stars of the country according to their level of social responsibility & # 39 ;. Fan was the last to be judged, with a score of 0 out of 100.

A producer with a large Chinese studio told CNN the practice of having two contracts, one of them smaller to avoid paying too much tax, was "universal" in the film industry.

He said that everyone was worried about the disappearance of Fan, especially because "almost every contract contains a number of irregularities" and can not withstand a serious audit.

Like other industry insiders that CNN spoke to, he refused to be named because of the political sensitivity of the subject.

Scare the stars in the queue

Jonathan Landreth, former editor-in-chief of Beijing in Beijing for the Hollywood Reporter and longtime observer of the Chinese entertainment industry, told CNN that the Chinese Communist Party was pursuing a difficult rule, eager to use famous celebrities for the & # 39; Chinese dream & # 39; sell, but do not want to promote the stark income distribution.

"Maybe this is just scaring people to pay taxes … If someone gets caught, I think this would have a wrinkly effect on how the film production goes forward in the coming years," Landreth said.

A manager in the Chinese office of a foreign film studio told CNN that the lack of A-list celebrities in China raised the bargaining power and earnings of a few happy, high-profile artists such as Fan.

But while resolving it could solve other problems, she said it would not help to address the fundamental lack of talent in the Chinese film and television industry.

Combined with strict ideological control, such measures only work to create a "sad situation" in the Chinese creative industry, she said.

However, the control can only go that far. The Chinese government needs the high-profile celebrities to stimulate trade, both nationally and internationally, to promote China, Landreth said.

The crackdown can in fact be intended to solve another problem that the authorities are facing. "It has long been an open secret that a film budget is a great place to hide money," Landreth said.

The leadership of the Communist Party can hope that by shedding light on tax evasion by celebrities, it could turn its attention away and prevent closer public scrutiny of the rumors of corruption between top executives and their families, Landreth told CNN.

Dissemination of & # 39; positive energy & # 39;

The Chinese Communist Party has had an uncomfortable relationship with celebrities for a long time.

In recent years, state media have called on celebrities to distribute "positive energy" on the internet. The threat of problems ending the career with the authorities has meant that the stars of the country have paid attention to the wishes of the party.
China WhatsApp crackdown only scratches the surface of the aggravation of Internet censorship

The result is a celebrity culture that has less in common with the entertaining and controversial Hollywood that the Western world knows. In China, celebrities often try to keep their reputation positive and harmless.

Australian analyst Ryan said when he lived in China, he worked with the publicity team for Chinese actress and singer Li Bingbing.

He encouraged Li to become more involved in environmental causes, including the United Nations Environment Program.

But Ryan said the team would never choose a cause, or engage in a fight that anticipated what the Communist Party thought comfortable, especially if it was against current government policy.

"You would be stupid to come to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese authorities on issues and show the way," he said.

Despite the speculation and concern, Ryan said it was possible that the explanation for the disappearance of Fan was actually very simple.

"She may have done something wrong … the evidence was displayed there so that everyone could see it, I think, in a way that would put the authorities in a position where they would have to come to her," he said.

CNN & # 39; s Serenity Wang contributed to this report.