Chinese Authorities Issue Rules on Actors’ Pay Following Fan Bingbing Controversy

Fan Bingbing'Ash Is Purest White' premiere, 71st Cannes Film Festival, France - 11 May 2018

Chinese authorities have issued rules on actors’ pay for film productions in China, in a tax-evasion clampdown widely seen as a direct response to the recent controversy over actress Fan Bingbing and her alleged use of “yin-yang contracts” to hide income.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, a notice jointly issued Wednesday by various top government agencies – including the propaganda department, the Communist Party’s central committee, the culture ministry, the tax authority, and the state radio, TV and film bureau – states that performers’ pay must not exceed 40% of a production’s total cost. Pay to the leading cast members must be capped at 70% of total payments to cast.

The percentages, which are the same as those in guidelines issued by the China Alliance of Radio Film and Television last year, apply not only to film productions but also television and audiovisual programs available on the Internet.

In addition to payments, the authorities also call for tighter scrutiny of celebrities’ participation in variety and reality shows to ensure that the payments are reasonable. Popular reality shows such as “Where Are We Going, Dad?”, which features celebrity father-and-son teams, have been reportedly paying exorbitant fees to talent.

“Strict monitoring of payments and contracts for film, television and online productions is a must. We must also step up our forces in fighting tax evasion and unhealthy competitions,” the official notice said.

It also criticized excessive bidding wars for talent.

Earlier this month, the State Authority of Taxation announced an industry-wide tax probe after Fan, one of China’s biggest stars, allegedly signed two different contracts – one declared, one secret – to hide a massive payment. Photos of the alleged contracts were leaked on social media by TV anchor Cui Yongyuan. Fan has denied the allegations.