Last month, China wiped almost every trace of Zhao Wei, one of the country’s most famous and wealthiest actresses, off the internet. It sparked a frenzy among fans desperate to know what had happened and where Wei was. According to photos published by the South China Morning Post, residents in her hometown of Wuhu spotted her at a mobile phone store recently. The pictures have spread like wildfire in China. Internet sleuths also thought they found a message of Wei wishing a colleague a happy birthday on Sunday, but it, too, ultimately disappeared.
The 45-year-old billionaire actress’ disappearance has raised questions about China’s censorship policies. The government previously announced they would be cracking down on “misbehaving celebrities,” but it’s unclear what Wei, who has served as a jury member for the Venice Film Festival among other plum international roles, had done to be included.