Chinese state media reported that one of its most successful actresses, Fan Bingbing, is “under control,” after she vanished from the public eye without explanation in July.
Fan, who played Blink in the 2014 film “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” has not been seen in public since July 1, and has not posted on social media since June 2.
Many speculated that she was being held by the Chinese government over allegations of tax evasion.
Her disappearance came after Cui Yongyuan, a former TV host with the state-owned China Central Television, suggested that the actress had signed secret contracts with a Chinese entertainment company to avoid paying taxes.
Last week, China’s state-run Securities Daily reported that Fan was “under control, and will accept the legal decision,” several news outlets including Taiwan News reported.
The report added that the actress had been jailed, and an alleged scandal related to signing multiple contracts to avoid paying higher taxes was only the “tip of the iceberg.”
The article was mysteriously taken down hours after it was published.
Other outlets have speculated on Fan’s whereabouts for months, and rumors circulated that she was living under house arrest, according to the Epoch Times.
Her boyfriend, actor Li Chen, has also reportedly not been heard from publicly since early July.
China seems to be censoring all news about her
In late July, independent Chinese newspaper The Economic Observer reported that police in Jiangsu province were examining Fan’s financial case, and that several of Fan’s staff were also under police investigation. It also reported that Fan and her brother, Fan Chengcheng, were barred from leaving the country.
But shortly after publication, that report was taken offline.
Posts about Fan’s whereabouts earlier this year were also censored from social media, noted Free Weibo, a website that tracks social media censorship in China.
The BBC at the time reported seeing comments from Fan’s supporters expressing their support and concern, but those posts also appeared to have been taken down.
The 36-year-old has been China’s highest-paid actress since 2013, according to Forbes. She reportedly pulls in tens of millions of dollars for her acting roles, as well as several high-end endorsements and appearance fees.
In June, Fan’s studio denied the allegations that Fan had signed multiple contracts to evade taxes, saying: “The studio and Fan Bingbing will fully cooperate with the relevant authority. We hope the investigation result can be released soon to answer the public doubt.”
A recent report authored by academics at Beijing Normal University ranked Fan the lowest in a “social responsibility assessment” of Chinese film and television stars.
The report evaluated celebrities on three criteria — professional work, charitable work, and integrity — based on media reports over the last year. Fan scored 0 out of 100, according to the report.
Rumors have circulated online that Fan’s low score may have resulted from the allegations of criminal activity against her.
Alexandra Ma contributed to this report.