China’s highest-paid movie star Fan Bingbing, who has not been seen in public since July, was placed last in an academic report ranking A-list celebrities on their social responsibility.
The 36-year-old actress has been a household name in China for years and tasted Hollywood success with a role in the 2014 blockbuster “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.
Last year, she topped Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning Chinese celebrities with income of 300 million yuan (Bt1.3 billion).
But she has gone quiet in recent months, following allegations of tax evasion.
In the report by Beijing Normal University published earlier this month, 100 Chinese stars including popular actor Jackie Chan and award-winning actress Zhang Ziyi were ranked according to their professional work, charity work and personal integrity.
But with a pass requiring a score of more than 60 per cent, only nine celebrities made the cut, with Chinese actor Xu Zheng topping the list at 78 per cent.
Fan had a score of zero.
The report’s authors said they studied the celebrities’ behaviour to assess the extent of their social responsibility but did not elaborate how they arrived at the results, saying that the findings were based on “research and web-scraping”.
The ranking has split fans online, with many jumping to Fan’s defence.
“What kind of a report is this? Fan has done so much good work in the past!” one user wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
Fan has been unusually quiet in recent months – with no new posts to her normally active personal Weibo account since May – amid speculation about her whereabouts.
The actress’s troubles began when Cui Yongyuan, a former presenter for state-run China Central Television (CCTV), posted purported contracts online in May that suggested she had received under-the-table payments.
A statement released by Fan’s studio said she was the victim of “slander” but did not dispute the authenticity of the documents Cui released.
So-called “yin and yang” dual contract arrangements – with one contract for income declared to tax authorities and another kept secret – are reportedly used to evade taxes.
After the documents posted by Cui went viral, the state tax administration was reportedly investigating alleged use of such dual contracts in the entertainment industry in eastern Jiangsu province.Although Fan was not mentioned by name, she has businesses registered in Jiangsu.
State news agency Xinhua reported in late June that government agencies, including the tax authority and the film and broadcast regulator, would crack down on excessive pay and tax evasion in entertainment.
Last month, nearly a dozen major Chinese film producers and video sites announced they also would boycott “unreasonable” pay for actors.
Fan is one of five leading international actresses cast in the upcoming Hollywood spy thriller “355”, alongside Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz.
Law cases have destroyed Chinese celebrities in the past, as the Communist Party has ultimate control over the country’s entertainment industry and can blacklist people it deems criminals.