Zheng Shuang, a Chinese actress, was fined $46 million for tax evasion.

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As China intensifies its fight against celebrity culture, top Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was fined for tax violation on Friday (27 August), while references to film star Vicki Zhao got removed from video streaming platforms.

After a series of scandals in recent months that have brought down China’s most prominent performers, including singer Kris Wu, who was detained on suspicion of rape earlier this month, Beijing is on a mission to reign in what it terms “chaotic fan culture” and celebrity excess.

According to an internet announcement, Shanghai tax authorities fined Zheng 299 million yuan (S$62 million) on Friday for tax fraud and undeclared income between 2019 and 2020.

After starring in the smash 2009 version of Taiwanese drama Meteor Shower and a string of other successful series and films, Zheng, 30, became a household figure in China.

Her previous boyfriend accused her of leaving their two surrogate infants in the United States, and she was entangled in a surrogacy scandal earlier this year.

Zheng’s offensive TV drama was also cancelled, and China’s state broadcasting regulator told producers not to recruit her for future episodes.

The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television also stated that it had “zero tolerance” for tax evasion, “sky-high compensation,” and “yin-yang contracts,” which are dodgy contracts used in Chinese showbiz to conceal artists’ actual pay.

China’s state media has gone all out to promote improvements to the country’s entertainment culture.

“Actors’ moral failings and legal transgressions, the nurturing of younger idols, and ‘chaotic’ fandoms have drawn extensive attention in society for some time now,” state broadcaster CCTV stated on Tuesday.

“We must return the people to a clean and upright literary and artistic atmosphere.”

On Thursday evening, primary Chinese video streaming services restricted search results for Zhao, a hugely popular actress also known as Zhao Wei in Chinese.

Her name was inexplicably erased from the credits of major TV programs, and a Weibo forum dedicated to the actress was also mysteriously taken down, despite the hashtag “Zhao Wei super-topic closed” gaining 960 million views.

However, Zhao, 45, and her husband were recently barred from trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange due to a failed 2016 takeover effort that the authorities deemed “disrupted market order.”

On Thursday, video streaming platform iQiyi announced the cancellation of all idol talent shows.

At the same time, a Chinese boy band made up of primary school students disbanded earlier this week after the singers’ ages prompted public outrage.

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