Fan Bingbing comes in last on list of socially responsible stars amid tax evasion rumours
In a state-sanctioned study on the social responsibility of Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong celebrities, top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing came in last.
This added fuel to the ongoing speculation on what has become of the 36-year-old, one of the most successful and wealthy Chinese actresses, who has been missing from the public eye for three months after she was accused of tax evasion.
The 2017-2018 China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report ranked stars based on three main criteria - their film and television work, their charitable activities and their behaviour. Stars were given scores out of 100.
Fan, the highest-paid Chinese actress and a darling of international red carpets who has expanded her career to Hollywood film roles, scored a shocking zero and was the last on a list of 100 celebrities.
The study, which was published on Sept 2, was the first of its kind and was authored by academics from Beijing Normal University and the state-affiliated Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Corporate Social Responsibility Research Institute.
Actor Xu Zheng, who starred in hit 2010 Chinese film Lost On Journey, came in first, scoring 78.08. The three members from teenage boyband TFBoys and Zhang Yixing, formerly from K-pop boyband Exo, rounded out the top five.
Fan's zero score raised eyebrows given that the X-Men actress has not been formally charged or confirmed to be involved in tax evasion. It was also a marked contrast to her fiance - Chinese actor Li Chen - who ranked high on the list at seven with a score of 61.8.
He has been silent about Fan's situation and has maintained a low profile since the news broke.
In May, veteran Chinese host Cui Yongyuan implied that Fan had signed what is known as "yin and yang" contracts, by having two contracts on one project to avoid being taxed fully.
Although Fan denied the accusations and Cui eventually walked back his claims, China's State Administration of Taxation announced shortly after that they were looking into the claims of tax evasion involving celebrities, avoiding Fan.
The actress, an active social media user, has not posted on her Weibo account since June 2. She was last seen in public on July 1 visiting a children's hospital.
Her disappearance from the public eye has led to rumours about her predicament. State-run Chinese publication Securities Daily ran a piece earlier this month that Fan had been "placed under control" and will "accept legal judgment".
The piece was taken down shortly after.
Fan's 18-year-old younger brother Fan Chengcheng, who made his debut in showbiz as a contestant on Chinese reality programme Idol Producer, shed tears during a fan meeting in Nanjing held on Saturday (Sept 8).
Although he did not make direct reference to his sister, he choked up while telling hordes of screaming fans: "A lot of things have happened recently and I'm perhaps more sensitive as a result.
"I hope that the next time I see you all (the fans), I can have the capabilities to protect you and my family."
There has been no news from Fan's team and a visit by Phoenix Television to her office showed that the premises have been vacated.
Following Fan's scandal, the Chinese government announced that they would be clamping down on sky-high pay for celebrities.
Stars in Chinese film and television productions will have their pay capped at 40 per cent of total production costs. Lead actors also cannot command more than 70 per cent of total cast pay.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.