Is it really possible for Fan Bingbing, an actress-singer-model with dozens of millions of followers, whom Forbes has named the most influential Chinese celebrity for four years running, to get any privacy? Probably not, which is why a notable number of those followers have begun to worry that, for once, they haven't been hearing much at all about Fan. (She was last seen in public over a month ago, while visiting a children's hospital in Shanghai on July 1.)
Fans who are familiar with Fan's frequent presence on Weibo, though, seem much more concerned about her absence online rather than IRL. Fan doesn't post too much on social media, and especially not on Instagram, where she last posted in late May. She is, however, often on Weibo, which is why the fact that she hasn't "liked" any posts on the platform in over a week, since July 23, has been causing more and more of her 62 million followers to write her (unanswered) comments asking her to let them know that she's okay.
It's certainly not out of the ordinary for a celebrity to take a break over the summer—especially an overworked star who could use some time off the map (and away from notifications). In this case, though, some are seeing it as an alarming sign, noting that Fan has not been in the news cycle since the Chinese TV presenter Cui Yongyuan publicly accused her of tax evasion this past May, which made enough waves to cause shares in some of China's biggest film studios to plummet. (Fan has established more and more of an international presence since playing Blink in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past; she's currently set to star in the spy thriller 355 alongside Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, and Lupita Nyong'o.)
In June, Fan's personal film studio, which has yet to comment on her whereabouts, defended the actress, stating that she had never taken part in any of the so-called "yin-yang" contracts—meaning using both an official contract (with lower figures) submitted for taxes and a secret one (with actual earnings)—that Cui had accused her of using. They also stated that both she and the studio would "fully cooperate with the relevant authority."
Things were relevantly quiet on that front until July 26, when the Chinese financial newspaper The Economic Observer published an article claiming that the police were questioning several of her staff members, and that her brother, who has not commented on the matter, had been told he, like Fan, cannot leave the country. According to the BBC, it wasn't long before both the stories and others mentioning it were taken offline, and news hasn't followed from other mainstream Chinese state outlets since. Meanwhile, according to the Hollywood Reporter, outlets in Taiwan and Hong Kong have been reporting on rumors of Fan's arrest, as well as of those of her manager and personal assistant, and the possibility of her scenes being cut from Unbreakable Spirit, her upcoming Chinese film with Bruce Willis.
With all that going on, the Internet's imagination has naturally been running wild, with rumors that Fan has even been detained. It does, however, only seem natural that amid all the drama, Fan would want (or at the very least be told) to lie low, and simply hasn't felt up to pressing "like" on Weibo as of late.