For a while now, there was some mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of leading actress Zhao Wei – the latest victim of the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on the entertainment industry. On Saturday, August 28, reports emerged on Chinese news sites that Zhao had fled the country on a private jet and was spotted at Bordeaux airport in France.
This comes after the August 26 reports that all entries related to Zhao on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo were removed. In addition to that, her name was also erased from the credits of films and TV shows, and all content featuring her including film, TV, chat show appearances and more was removed from major streaming sites like Tencent Video and iQiyi.
Taking matters one step ahead, all discussion of Zhao on social media was also censored. A close friend of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Zhao and her husband were early investors in Alibaba Pictures Group, buying a $400 million stake in 2015. Today, even Jack Ma’s fate is not unknown to people as the billionaire tech tycoon and Alibaba founder has reportedly not been seen in public since late October 2019 following his criticism of the Chinese regime.
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Zhao, who is also known as Vicky or Vicki Zhao, is known for her work in ‘My Fair Princess’, ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and ‘Lost in Hong Kong’. The actress turned billionaire investor is also the face of Italian fashion house Fendi in China. Chinese state newspaper The Global Times had reported that no official reason had been given for the erasure of Zhao’s presence and work from the Internet. However, her old allegations of financial impropriety and a number of other scandals did resurface.
In 2018, the Shanghai Stock Exchange reportedly banned Zhao and her husband Huang Youlong from acting as listed company executives for five years due to irregularities related to a failed takeover bid in 2016. The Communist Party-controlled publication accused Zhao of having “been entangled in various scandals over the years”. “Aside from her celebrity identity, Zhao was also widely known as a billionaire investor surrounded with lawsuits,” it reads. “As early as 2001, Zhao received an overload of criticism for publicly wearing a dress featuring a Japanese military flag …”
After Saturday’s report, Zhao, in an attempt to dispel rumours about being banned from Chinese social media sites, posted three pictures to her Instagram account. That is disregarding the fact that the social media platform is banned in China.
Reports say Zhao claimed on Instagram that she was staying with her parents in Beijing. When responding to a user on her account, she denied that she was in France. This Instagram post was later deleted.
“Zhao Wei updated her Instagram, saying that she is with her mom and dad in Beijing, and then the post disappeared as wild rumors about her fleeing to France fly around,” one user wrote on Twitter.
Zhao Wei updated her Instagram, saying that she is with her mom and dad in Beijing, and then the post disappeared as wild rumors about her fleeing to France fly around. pic.twitter.com/zgLjFYgjJc
— Eddie Du (@EddieDu5) August 29, 2021