*BEIJING - Fan Bingbing, Chinese movie star who has appeared in the “X-Men” and “Iron Man” film franchises, has more than 62 million followers online in China , has mysteriously disappeared.*
The star’s vanishing act – she dropped off the radar in June when reports started to swirl that she was involved in a probe into tax evasion in the film industry – has sparked wild speculation in China about her fate, including reports the actress had been detained.
The real-life drama has been playing out at a time when Beijing is tightening the reins on popular culture, looking to stamp out behavior seen as going against the ruling Communist Party’s ideological line and co-opting movie stars, pop bands and online celebrities to endorse socialist values.
“It is written in our new movie promotion law that entertainers need to pursue both professional excellence and moral integrity,” said Si Ruo, a researcher at the School of Journalism and Communication at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.
“In the unbridled growth of the industry in the past few years, we might have overlooked the need for positive energy, so the government’s intervention is reasonable.”
Fan Bingbing is the most prominent example. The actress, 36, is China’s equivalent of Hollywood star Jennifer Lawrence. She topped Forbes’ China celebrity rich list last year with earnings of 300 million yuan ($43.78 million).