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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fan Bingbing

Chinese authorities have issued new rules to cap the pay of local actors and clamp down on tax evasion following the controversy over Fan Bingbing’s alleged use of a dual contract system.

On June 27, a group of government agencies jointly stated that actors’ pay must not exceed 40% of a film or TV production’s total cost – and that pay earned by the leading cast members must not exceed 70% of the total cast payments.

The directive – issued by the propaganda department of the Communist Party, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Administration of Taxation and the State Administration of Radio and Television – also said that current practices are raising production costs to unsustainable levels, negatively affecting the overall quality of domestic productions and helping to spread “money-worshipping” values among young people.

China’s top stars, such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen, are understood to earn between $5m-$10m per picture, but with the boom in Chinese box office and streaming platforms, smaller stars and performers in variety shows and made-for-internet productions are also demanding exorbitant fees.

Fan Bingbing is alleged to be one of many Chinese actors using the dual “Yin Yang” contract system – one kept secret, one presented to the tax authorities – to hide the true level of earnings. In May, Chinese TV presenter Cui Youngyuan leaked photos of the alleged contracts – one for $1.6m and the other for $7.8m – on social media. Fan has denied the allegations.

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