- The internationally-renowned Chinese actress, Fan Bingbing, mysteriously disappeared from the public eye for four months last year.
- She had been detained by the Chinese government, which was investigating her for tax evasion, though nobody knew that at the time.
- She has kept a low profile since, only emerging from time to time to glorify the Chinese Communist Party.
- In a Saturday interview with The New York Times, she appeared even to thank her government for detaining her, saying: "It has made me calm down and think seriously about what I want to do in my future life."
- Fan's case has served as a warning shot to anyone who dared defy the Chinese state.
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Fan Bingbing, the popular Chinese actress who was mysteriously disappeared by her country for four months last year, has given a rare interview appearing to thank the Communist Party for vanishing her.
The 37-year-old actress — who has starred in dozens of Chinese movies, as well in the "X-Men" franchise — disappeared from the public eye from July to October last year as provincial authorities investigated her for tax evasion.
Authorities found that she and her companies had evaded 248 million yuan ($34 million/£28 million) in taxes.
Fan, who used to share minute details of her life to her millions of social media followers, has kept a low profile ever since, only breaking her silence from time to time to glorify the Chinese state.
In an interview with The New York Times, published on Saturday, Fan once again groveled to the Chinese state, and even appeared to thank the government for vanishing her.
It appears to be her first interview with Western media since her disappearance.
"It may be a trough I encountered in my life or in my work, but this trough is actually a good thing," she told the Times. "It has made me calm down and think seriously about what I want to do in my future life."
"No one can have smooth sailing throughout the journey," she added, referring to her acting career.
The Times added that she spoke with "a calm — if perhaps practiced — resignation."
De Beers Jewellers/YouTube
Fan was found to have evaded taxes by splitting her earnings into two contracts — one public, one hidden. She wasn't given any criminal charges, but ordered to repay 479 million yuan ($70 million).
Many people she worked with — including her manager at the time — were arrested, the Times reported.
During those four months of obscurity Fan was held under house arrest, though nobody knew it at the time. The South China Morning Post reported that she was detained in a luxury "holiday resort" in the coastal province of Jiangsu, where authorities were investigating her case.
20th Century Fox/XMen trailer
Fan Bingbing, Communist Party cheerleader?
Immediately after her charges and fine were announced, Fan issued a groveling apology to the Chinese government, writing on the microblogging site Weibo: "For a while, due to my not understanding the relationship between benefits of the country, society, and individual, I and others took advantage of a 'split contract' to avoid tax problems, and I am deeply ashamed."
"Without the Party and country's good policies, without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing," she added.
A month later, she republished a map on Weibo that touted China's controversial claims to the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Getty Images/Weibo/Business Insider
Fan's high-profile disappearance has prompted many people in China's film industry to pay back any outstanding taxes, as well as served as a warning shot to anyone who dared defy the Chinese authority.
China's message is that "nobody is too high, nobody is above, nobody can escape government scrutiny," Roderic Wye, a former diplomat at the British Embassy in Beijing, told Business Insider last year.
Fan's humbling was "partly a periodic [drive] to crack down on high-level earners, but more importantly, it's part and parcel of the [national campaign] for a new, modest patriot serving the national cause, instead of private gain," Wye added.
Last month Fan appeared in a teaser for "355," an action movie produced by Jessica Chastain about female spies from around the world. A blockbuster starring Fan and Bruce Willis got scrapped last year for unspecified reasons.