Do you think this is a question of diplomacy? China on mysterious disappearance of actress Fan Bingbing

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing Photograph:( Twitter )

WION Web Team Delhi, India Sep 14, 2018, 08.16 PM (IST)

One of the world's highest paid celebrities, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who received global attention for her appearance as 'blink' in the Hollywood superhero blockbuster 'X-Men: Days of future past', vanished from the public eye three months ago,  soon after being accused of tax evasion. 

Her whereabouts have finally been revealed by a state-run Chinese publication. In a statement, they said that she has been placed “under control, and will accept the legal decision”.  But the story was pulled down a few hours later. Chinese media had been speculating that she had been detained, though the report was unconfirmed until now. 

According to news agency Reuters, the Chinese celebrity was unreachable, calls to her agent also went unanswered. 

The real-life drama has been playing out at a time when Beijing is tightening the reins on popular culture, looking to stamp out behaviour 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.

But the government seems to claim no involvement in the case, "Do you think this is a question of diplomacy?" a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry reasoned.

Chinese law has been tightening its noose around the popular culture, social media, and its online realm to ensure adherence to its ideology

"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.

State-run media have begun using phrases such as "tainted artists", with official bodies pledging to ban stars who behave badly, including drug taking, gambling or visiting prostitutes.

An open letter earlier this month from members of the Beijing Trade Association for Performances said the body would "purify" the city's entertainment and performance sector and guide artists towards "core socialist values".

China has long sought to control the creative arts, from censoring movies to literature. However, a boom in online media has prompted a new push to cleanse the arts world, as President Xi Jinping looks to tighten his grip over a huge and diverse cultural scene popular with China's youth.

The star's vanishing act has now sparked wild speculation in China about her fate.

(With inputs from Reuters

Story highlights

Chinese law has been tightening its noose around the popular culture, social media, and its online realm to ensure adherence to its ideology.