Oct 22, 2021 08:46 PM

Chart of the Day: China’s Fallen Stars

Beijing has been on a fierce and relentless campaign since 2014 to crack down on so-called “bad behavior performers” in the entertainment industry — those involved in “immoral” activities such as gambling, illegal drug use, soliciting sex workers, and other behavior that breaks the law or seen as undermining public order.

Key regulators in the campaign include the Communist Party’s Publicity Department, the National Radio and Television Administration and the China Association of Performing Arts. Performers who violate relevant regulations can be banned from performing for life, which usually results in them losing lucrative endorsement contracts and other business opportunities.

At least a dozen singers, actors and other performers have fallen to the campaign. The latest case made headlines Thursday after Beijing police announced that Li Yundi, 39, a world famous Chinese pianist, had been placed under administrative detention for allegedly patronizing a prostitute.

Overnight, the China Musicians Association said in a statement that it had revoked Li’s membership. Meanwhile, Hunan Satellite TV station, which produces a reality TV show featuring Li, cut the pianist’s appearances from the show, “Call Me by Fire.”

Some performers stand accused of breaking the law. Kris Wu, a 30-year-old Chinese-Canadian pop star, was formally arrested in Beijing in August on suspicion of rape for having “repeatedly tricked young women into sexual relations,” according to a police statement.

Following Wu’s arrest, more than a dozen Chinese and foreign brands announced they had terminated their spokesperson contracts with him. The companies involved included Chinese streaming site Tencent Video, Italian luxury brand Bulgari and French high fashion brand Louis Vuitton. The high-profile case also prompted an outpouring of online criticism about Wu’s alleged misconduct.

Also in August, the State Taxation Administration’s Shanghai branch ordered the once high-profile Chinese actress Zheng Shuang to pay 299 million yuan ($46 million) in overdue taxes, late fees and fines after accusing her of massive tax evasion.

The list goes on. The crackdown on the entertainment industry shows that Chinese authorities want cultural icons to have high moral standing, while the cultural elite are expected to be moral role models for the masses.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Michael Bellart (

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