Jackie Chan, Jet Li Blacklist Rumors Swirl Amid China Celebrity Crackdown

A little-known Chinese director has gained something of a cult following on Douyin—China's version of TikTok—after claiming the country's entertainment industry crackdown could reach A-list stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

Zhou Guogang, 33, who has worked on three films in his career so far, has been commenting extensively on the recent goings-on in China, where the presence of Chinese actor Zhao Wei was wiped from the internet for as yet unknown reasons last week.

Zhou's short videos seem to be speculation, but his own presence in the entertainment industry has lent the rumors some credibility among his followers on Douyin.

After the works of 45-year-old Zhao were scrubbed from Chinese streaming platforms and social media services on August 26, Zhou noticed other celebrities had deleted posts and pictures featuring the apparently blacklisted actor, whose exact offenses are still unknown.

In a video last Friday, Zhou suggested Chinese celebrities with foreign passports could be next on the list for "cancelation." This, according to the director, might include 58-year-old martial arts actor Li, who holds Singaporean citizenship.

"You should run. The house may come down on you next month," said Zhou.

In another post on Sunday, the director claimed 30-year-old Canadian actor Kris Wu—currently being held in Beijing on suspicion of rape—had handed Chinese authorities a list of 47 celebrities.

The nature of the rumored list is unclear, but Zhou said it included Jackie Chan, Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang and others. Chan, from Hong Kong, is a vocal advocate of the Chinese Communist Party and its policies.

"A storm is brewing in the entertainment industry," Zhou said.

The fate of the high-profile Zhao, who is also known as Vicky or Vicki, remains shrouded in mystery. Amid rumors she and her husband, 44-year-old Singaporean businessman Huang You Long, had fled to France over the weekend, Zhao posted a cryptic message to Instagram hinting that she was still in Beijing. The August 29 post was deleted an hour later.

Observers have speculated that Zhao's online disappearance may be linked to her friendship with Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who himself appeared to fall foul of the Chinese leadership after criticizing the country's financial system last year.

On August 27, China's internet watchdog, known as the Cyberspace Administration of China, issued a notice to social media companies to clamp down on harmful and cultish celebrity culture in order to create a "clean internet."

On Wednesday, Douyin said an internal review resulted in the removal of 1,900 user groups from its platform. The fan groups had been set up to spread gossip and rumors, as well as to gamble and crowdfund, it said.

China's Celebrity Crackdown Targets A-list Stars
File photo: Actor Jackie Chan at the 2019 British Academy Britannia Awards on October 25, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA