One of China’s biggest movie stars who was mysteriously scrubbed from the internet last month has now surfaced back in her hometown.
Zhao Wei was spotted by fans at a mobile services provider store in Wuhu in eastern China on Tuesday, according to photos being widely shared online.
The 45-year-old, who is one of the country’s wealthiest and most beloved actresses, posed for photos with some fans.
It marks the first time Zhao has been spotted out in public since she was erased from the internet by the Chinese government on Aug. 26.
Beijing has refused to explain her sudden disappearance.
But it came amid a wider crackdown by the Community Party on the entertainment industry – or what it called “chaotic” celebrity fan culture.
Chinese video platforms have taken down films or TV shows that Zhao starred in or directed, citing “relevant laws and regulations”.
Her name has also been scrubbed from online casting lists.
In addition to acting, Zhao has directed a number of award-winning films and gained a huge social media following with 86 million fans on Chinese social media site Weibo throughout her career.
Her online disappearance has sparked fears that other celebrities will be inclined to embrace the Community Party’s regime.
It is unclear what, if anything, Zhao did that could have resulted in the government targeting her.
Zhao is just the latest Chinese celebrity or high-powered figure to be targeted by the government.
Actress Zheng Shuang became embroiled in a surrogacy controversy back in January. Soon after, Shanghai tax authorities started investigating her and then fined her 299 million yuan last month for tax evasion.
And entrepreneur Weihong “Whitney” Duan, who was once the poster woman for the Chinese dream, simply vanished on Sept. 5, 2017.
Her ex-husband Desmond Shum, who is living in exile in Great Britain with their son, now 13, has written a book about her disappearance called ‘Red Roulette: An insider’s story of wealth, power, corruption, and vengeance in today’s China’.
Shum still doesn’t know whether Whitney is languishing in one of the Party’s “black jails” or if she was secretly executed.