Fan Bingbing is perhaps best known in the U.S. for playing the teleporting mutant Blink in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past or for playing an Iron Man 3 character in deleted scenes which were only theatrically released in her native China. Forbes has listed the actor, singer, and model among the highest-paid Chinese celebrities every year since 2013. Those large paychecks have led to scrutiny of her finances which may have had dire consequences, as both Bingbing and her boyfriend, actor Li Chen, have not been seen in public since July following accusations of Bingbing evading taxes, a state-sponsored report labelled her “not socially responsible”, and rumors swirled that she had been arrested by Chinese officials.
In May, news anchor Cui Yongyuan of the formerly state-run CCTV reported an accusation that Bingbing had been using “yin-yang contracts” to evade taxes. A yin-yang contract illegally pays an actor a higher amount than is reported to the Chinese government. After the accusation was made public, Bingbing disappeared from social media, and she was last seen in public on July 1st, when she visited a children’s hospital.
Last week, Securities Daily (a state-run Chinese publication) published a report — then deleted it a few hours later — stating Bingbing was “under control, and will accept the legal decision.” The report also claimed “yin-yang contracts are only the tip of the iceberg. She is also suspected of participating in illegal lending and other forms of corruption. In the worst case, she faces legal punishment.”
Complicating matters is a report published today (Tuesday), The 2017-2018 China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report authored by academics at state-funded Beijing Normal University. Bingbing was given a damning 0% rating, labeling her “not socially responsible.” The report, published widely by state media outlets, ranked 100 Chinese celebrities based on three criteria: “professional work, charitable actions and personal integrity.” The celebrities were then ranked according to vague descriptors (with no explanation of methodology) regarding their social impact, promotion of “positive energy”, and strength as role models.
Only nine celebrities received a passing grade of 60% or higher, three of the nine being members of the same boy band, TFBoys. (Is an author of the study a huge fan?) The ranking system is, to say the least, arbitrary. Openly discouraging the use of tobacco or drugs will seemingly help your ranking, for example, but not nearly as much as referring to Taiwan as a “Chinese region” (never a “country”) will help your rating.
On social media, members of the Sina Weibo microblog have been coming to Bingbing’s defense, pointing out charity work she’s done, such as reportedly donating one million yuan ($145,655) to the Tianjin Fire Brigade. Members of Sina Weibo have also been defending other celebrities given lower ratings including Jackie Chan, who was listed in 42nd place despite his many years of philanthropic work.
It is not known at this time if Fan Bingbing will still be available for projects she was recently signed on to, including Simon Kinberg’s upcoming spy thriller 355.