New Delhi: Chinese actress Zheng Shuang has been fined 299 million yuan, or $46 million, as penalty for alleged tax evasion. The National Radio and Television Administration has also prohibited all broadcasters and video service platforms from including Shuang in any show, China’s state media outlet Global Times has reported. According to the report, shows already starring the actress will not be aired any more.
The Global Times report added that Zheng Shuang was being questioned by the Shanghai tax authority since April, after her ex-husband Zhang Heng reported her for tax evasion.
Shuang had previously attracted international media attention in January due to a surrogacy scandal. According to a CNN report, Zheng Shuang and Zhang Heng had allegedly hired two surrogates to give birth to their children, but Zhang Heng accused her of abandoning him and their children in the US.
China’s punishment of celebrities
The fine imposed on Zheng Shuang, it has been reported, forms part of a wider policy by the Chinese government to crackdown on tax evasion and other alleged crimes by celebrities. Global Times reporter Qing Qing Chen has termed the policy as a “rectification of the entertainment sector”.
Apart from the Zheng Shuang case, other Chinese celebrities’ works were also removed from major platforms Friday for undisclosed reasons. Actress Zhao Wei’s name was removed from the cast list of several productions, the Global Times added.
Crackdown on the "chaotic" online celebrity fan culture continues by banning lists that rank celebrities by popularity as #China's cyberspace regulator said on Friday, as a part of top-down efforts to rectify #internet sector. https://t.co/GzHCxxHRYL
— Qingqing_Chen (@qingqingparis) August 27, 2021
[trending] After #ZhaoWei’s name was removed from the cast list of My Fair Princess, Romance In the Rain, and other projects on multiple streaming platforms, Tencent Video has removed all of her works. Her SuperTopic has also been shut down. Reason unclear at the moment. pic.twitter.com/tyaEdMQ8TC
— cdrama tweets (@dramapotatoe_) August 26, 2021
Bloomberg also reported Friday that Zhao Wei’s fan club on Chinese social media platform Weibo was no longer accessible.
This is not the first attempt by China to look into allegations of crimes and legal irregularities by celebrities.
In July, Chaoyang District Police had detained Chinese-Canadian actor Kris Wu, following accusations of rape and deceiving young women into having sex with him, the China daily had reported. He was subsequently arrested earlier this month, The Guardian reported.
Chinese authorities have allegedly engaged in online censorship of Kris Wu’s fans, according to the South China Morning Post, as part of the country’s alleged “rectification” of the industry.
Chinese authorities have, however, been previously criticised for not acting swiftly in cases that did not involve celebrities, such as in that of a #MeToo allegation made by an Alibaba employee against her supervisor and a client, earlier this month.
“Rectification of entertainment sector continues” https://t.co/ty1DiJ4ikT
— Aadil Brar (@aadilbrar) August 27, 2021
The discrepancy between the speed of action taken against the Alibaba employee and that against Kris Wu, Zheng Shuang, and others is representative of the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on celebrities and the entertainment industry, journalist Aadil Brar had written for ThePrint.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.