Some of the biggest names in the world of Chinese film and television have shut down or de-registered companies in the Chinese-Kazakh border town of Khorgas in Xinjiang since Fan Bingbing’s tax evasion scandal first broke earlier this year, according to Chinese media reports. Khorgas, seen as a “landlocked port” and key hub under China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, had previously touted itself as a tax haven for movie and TV production companies, with an array of tax benefits offered by the authorities there including initial five-year tax breaks for big companies involved with the visual arts.
In total, SCTN reports, over 100 businesses have scaled down or shuttered operations in the city, including those with involvement from Xu Jinglei (known for films Go Lala Go! and Somewhere Only We Know), Vincent Zhao (Once Upon a Time in China), and Feng Xiaogang (I Am Not Madame Bovary, Youth).
Chinese Authorities Finally Issue a Statement on Fan Bingbing, Fining Her for Tax Evasion
That last name in particular has raised a few eyebrows, given the close relationship between the filmmaker and Fan Bingbing, plus the fact that Cui Yongyuan — Fan’s original accuser — has made no secret of his suspicions regarding Feng. The veteran director has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, though he continues to be the subject of widespread speculation online. His part in recent Jia Zhangke film Ash is the Purest White was completely cut without any proper explanation and the upcoming slate for his production company appears limited, with the controversial Cellphone 2 — the sequel that sparked the “yin-yang contracts” scandal — reportedly nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile, a number of figures at the tax authorities in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, who investigated Fan Bingbing have been disciplined according to a bulletin issued by State-controlled news agency Xinhua. The report stated that the tax bureau in the city, where Fan’s production company was based, had been “criticized and called out for rectification, and relevant officials were imposed administrative sanctions of warning and record of demerits.”
The move comes amid widespread speculation that Fan Bingbing will not be the only high profile name to be drawn into authorities’ tax investigation and with the Nikkei Asian Review suggesting that the ongoing trade war with the United States may be a factor:
The high-profile crackdown on the super rich came amid rising public anger over inequality and spreading concerns about the trade war between China and the U.S., prompting Beijing to take tough action to maintain stability, analysts say.
It certainly appears part of a broader push by authorities to target “money worship” and what they see as some celebrities’ “distortion of social values”, though where things go from here remains anyone’s guess.
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