by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What if Scarlett Johansson disappeared for several months and no U.S. media was allowed to publicly talk about it? What if it turned out that she didn’t disappear but was brought “under control and about to receive legal judgment” by the U.S. government?
I know how ridiculous this hypothetical scenario sounds. I apologize to Johansson and her fans and can assure them and our readers that something like this won’t happen in a free country like the United States (at least not yet). But a hypothetical scenario for Johansson is the harsh reality for Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, and we may not be as far from it as we think. …
… Just when it seemed that her star couldn’t be any brighter, her fortunes took a drastic turn this summer after Cui Yongyuan, an outspoken and controversial television host on China’s government-run Central Television station, alleged through social media that Fan was involved in “yin-yang” contracts (fake and real contracts) to hide her true income and evade taxes. …
… Although a week later Cui apologized to Fan and declared in an interview that “Fan actually had nothing to do with the two contracts,” his apology was too little, too late. China’s tax authority launched an investigation right after Cui’s social media post. Soon after, Fan disappeared from the public eye. The last post on the her personal Weibo account is dated June 2, and no one saw or heard from her for more than four months.
Chinese authorities denied Fan was secretly arrested. A mega-star like her mysteriously disappeared, and Chinese media were banned from reporting on the story. Any Chinese media attempt to report on her was quickly taken offline.