Billionaire actress 'no longer exists' in China after being erased from history 2 months ago

Billionaire actress 'no longer exists' in China after being erased from history

No trace of Zhao Wei can be found on the internet in China

One of China's most successful and famous actors has been completely removed from the internet in the country, with her entire existence appearing to have vanished.

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No trace of Zhao Wei can be found online in China, with films she has starred in or directed being removed from video platforms, and her name wiped from all online credits for films she's been in.

China has gone as far as removing any chat shows she appeared on from the country's streaming sites as well.

Discussions about why Wei's name has been purged from the internet are being censored from social media. However, CNA Lifestyle reports that video platforms have cited "relevant laws and regulations" as the reason behind the move.

Reports have since suggested that 45-year-old Wei has been removed from the web as part of a crackdown on "chaotic" celebrity fan culture in China, following a series of controversies involving artists.

China's top internet watchdog has said that platforms will no longer be able to publish lists of popular celebrity individuals and fan groups must be regulated. It added that it will take action against "harmful information" in celebrity fan groups and close down discussion channels that spread scandals or "provoke trouble."

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In a statement, the Cyberspace Administration of China said that regulators need to "increase their sense of responsibility, mission, and urgency to maintain online political and ideological security."

Celebrity fan clubs have become something of a phenomenon online in China, with local newspapers estimating the country's "idol economy" to be worth £15.7 billion by next year.

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But fan clubs and groups have been criticised for their influence over young people and for causing social disorder. Rival groups will often trade verbal abuse online or even spend large amounts of money to vote for their favourite stars on idol competition programmes.

Wei isn't the first well-known figure this online purging has happened to.

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Canadian-Chinese pop star Kris Wu was detained by Beijing police last month on suspicion of sexual assault, allegations that he and his management have denied, resulting in his fan groups coming to his defence on social media. Many of these groups were swiftly shut down, along with Wu's online accounts.