Hit with monumental fines for tax evasion, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing made a fulsome apology on Oct 3, saying she felt ”ashamed and guilty for what I did.”

It was her first public statement after months of silence on her Weibo social media account and after fevered speculation over her disappearance from view.

Fans and industry observers have wondered whether Fan, China’s highest-paid actress, had been put under house arrest by Chinese authorities, or even imprisoned and interrogated under duress.

Although she has still yet to be seen in public, Fan said she accepted responsibility for having “lost my ability to govern myself in the face of economic interests, leading myself to break the law.”

She said she had “endured an unprecedented amount of pain, undergoing deep self-reflection and introspection … I beg for everyone’s forgiveness!”

She credited China’s ruling Communist Party and her fans for her success as an actress. She and her companies now face as much as RMB883mil (RM533mil) in back taxes and fines. Fan said she would pay the penalties and vowed in future to “uphold the law and respect orders.”

Her punishment comes as the Chinese government steps up its campaign to ensure that all citizens toe the party line, which demands adherence to “core socialist values” and frowns on ostentatious displays of wealth.

Officials have also launched an investigation into the use of double contracts in the entertainment industry, where only the one of lower value is declared to tax authorities. Fan admitted to the practice.

Within hours, her apology had been re-posted more than 100,000 times and received nearly 500,000 “likes.”

Fans generally agreed with the authorities but also declared their love and support for the actress.“Respect the result, accept criticism. We still (heart emoji),” wrote one Weibo user.“Humans are not saints. It is impossible for us to make no mistakes. Being able to correct your mistakes is the right thing to do,” another user wrote. – Reuters