Here's How China Made Its Biggest Actress Fan Bingbing Disappear In Plain Sight

Here's How China Made Its Biggest Actress Fan Bingbing Disappear In Plain Sight
(Photo: Facebook/BuzzFeed Entertainment)

Fans were shocked when China's most famous actress Fan Bingbing suddenly and without explanation vanished. The actress', who is also the country's highest-paid celebrity, disappearance made it possible for conspiracy theories to abound.

People wondered if she had been abducted or in exile. Others thought Fan Bingbing, who is "the No. 1 beauty under the heavens," was forced into hiding.

She is also one of China's most famous faces. She appears in several of the country's biggest and highest-grossing films each year. In fact, her face is so beloved that it has become coveted. Women flock to their plastic surgeons hoping to emulate Fan Bingbing.

In China, where the movie industry favors fantasies and mysteries, the story of Fan Bingbing's disappearance suggested the kind of thriller in which she herself might star. But, last week, after an absence of more than three months, she resurfaced to issue a statement that could have earned her a part in a well-known TV drama series: the coerced public apology, Channel NewsAsia reports.

Fan Bingbing's wealth should come as no surprise. The amount of money her films have made from her two decades in the industry could probably eclipse the GDP of several small countries. When the American film industry decided she was ripe to cross over, she took a role in "Iron Man 3," one of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time. Fan has money, and it is no secret.

But under China's current regime, conservative values reign supreme. Talk of wealth - in this case, exorbitant, delirious wealth - is uncouth. This is very hard for some people to imagine, living in a land sprawling with mega malls, luxury real estate developments and teenagers flexing in designer clothing.

Fan Bingbing did not speak on camera, AsiaOne reports. It was, however, hard to imagine what could have prompted a more lip-quivering performance than the open letter that she published on Weibo, which is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

After expressing "deep shame and sorrow," she admitted to years of underreporting her earnings, through the practice of "yin and yang" contracts, in which a smaller contract is disclosed but a larger one is paid to the star. She was reportedly ordered to pay a hundred and thirty million dollars in back taxes and penalties. Her actions amounted not only to a personal misstep but to a betrayal of China.

"I owe my success to the support from my country and the people. Without the great policies of the [Chinese Communist] party and the country, without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing," she wrote. "I have failed my country."

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