GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
A top Chinese actress, Zheng Shuang, yesterday received a USD46m tax evasion fine. Zheng became a household name in China after starring in the hit 2009 remake of “Meteor Shower” and a number of follow up successful series + follow-ups. The previous day, Vicky Zhao, another very popular actress was censored from major Chinese video streaming sites. No official reason was given but Zhao and her husband had previously been banned from trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
CCTV, China’s State Broadcaster stated “For some time now artists’ moral failures and legal violations, the cultivation of younger idols and ‘chaotic’ fandoms have attracted widespread attention in society.” The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television added that it had “zero tolerance” of tax evasion, “sky-high pay” and “yin-yang contracts” referring to the shady contracts commonly used in Chinese showbiz to obscure actor’s real pay.
Observers of China struggle to reconcile “Socialism” with “Billionaires” with “Celebrities”. How is it possible to have fame, profit, and extravagance alongside Marx, Lenin, Mao and Xi? These are very big questions and no society has previously reached the stage of development that China now occupies. Socialism in China does not mean egalitarianism or equality any more than it means rampant capitalism and a commercial “free for all”. And the Party sits at the apex of power ever ready to strike down Billionaires who try to take on Government or Media stars who try to evade large sums of tax.
In the USSR the Soviet Communist Part surrendered power to the Oligarchs and the Soviet state quickly unravelled. The lesson is not lost on Xi Jinping, the Politburo or the Central Committee. If China is to achieve increased prosperity and stability during the next 78 years of this Century, the Party has to remain firm when challenged by Billionaires or Media Stars.