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Where Is China's Fan Bingbing?

FILE - Fan Bingbing poses for photographers as she arrives for the screening of the film "The Beguiled" at the 70th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)
Where Is China's Fan Bingbing?
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Fan Bingbing is one of China’s most famous actors. She has appeared in dozens of films, television shows and advertisements in China.

Around the world, she is best known for her roles in the “X-Men” and “Iron Man” films. In 2016, Forbes listed her as one of the five highest paid female actors in the world.

But the star has disappeared.

The last time Fan was seen in public was in early June, during a visit to a children’s hospital in Tibet. And the last time she posted to her popular Weibo social media account was June 2.

Her disappearance has caused widespread discussion in China about her fate, including reports that she had been secretly detained.

Fan’s disappearance comes as the Chinese government aims to reduce behavior among entertainers that is seen as going against the Communist Party. China’s tax office said in June it was launching a tax evasion investigation into the film and television industry.

Some reports say Fan may be involved in that investigation.

In May, a retired Chinese state television reporter posted documents on Weibo that he said were pay agreements for one of Fan’s upcoming films. The documents included two contracts: one that listed the real payment terms, and a second that listed a lower payment number to give to tax officials.

In China, such agreements are called “yin-yang” contracts. They are a common way to avoid taxes.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that Fan’s representatives denied that she had ever signed separate contracts for one job.

Fan has not been charged with a crime.

‘Tainted artists’

Chinese state media have started using the expression “tainted artists.” Official government bodies have promised to ban stars who behave badly -- including drug taking, gambling or visiting sex workers.

An open letter earlier this month from members of the Beijing Trade Association for Performances said it would “purify” the city’s entertainment community and guide artists towards “socialist values.”

Fan’s disappearance has become a worldwide discussion in recent days.

On Twitter, one Australian reported asked, “Imagine the outcry if any other actor who appeared in the X-Men franchise - say Hugh Jackman - disappeared for months without explanation.”

And an American reporter for the New York Times posted, “Imagine if Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian disappeared for two months with no explanation, and it turns out the US government has been [holding] her in secret custody. That’s China.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today…

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and South China Morning Post news reports. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

fate - n. the things that will happen to a person

evasion - n. the act of avoiding something that you do not want to do or deal with

taint - v. to hurt or damage the good condition of something

outcry - n. an expression of strong anger or disapproval by many people : a reaction showing that people are angry or unhappy about something

gambling - n. the practice or activity of betting money