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A Chinese actress with millions of fans has been 'deleted from history' by the country's government.

Award-winning Zhao Wei is one of China's most famous and richest actresses, worth billions of dollars.

But Beijing has seemingly scrubbed her entire internet existence in the Communist country, and the government is not saying why.

All series and chat shows featuring her have vanished from major Chinese online streaming sites, while she no longer even appears in the online credits for the movies she appears in.

The 45-year-old's seeming deletion from the Chinese internet has sparked debate about why her existence is being censored on social media.

Zhao was previously accused of being unpatriotic for hiring a Taiwanese actor for a leading role in a 2016 film. Beijing had that choice overturned.

But reports are now suggesting that the move from China has been described as a crack down on 'chaotic' cult-like celebrity fan following after a series of controversies involving artists.

Platforms will no longer be able to publish lists of popular celebrities and fan groups must be regulated according to China's top internet watchdog. Talent agencies must also submit themselves to Communist party oversight.

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

Online celebrity fan clubs have become a widespread phenomenon in China with local newspaper The Paper projecting the country's 'idol economy' could be worth 140 billion yuan (£15.7 billion) by 2022.

Zhao's management agency, Pulin Saisi, said it had no knowledge of the situation.

China's National Radio and Television Administration in 2018 ordered the banishment of actors whose "morality is not noble", along with those who are "tasteless, vulgar and obscene", or whose "ideological level is low and have no class".

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The Communist party-controlled Global Times has accused Zhao of having "been entangled in various scandals over the years".

Unsubstantiated reports have since claimed Zhao has fled to France from China after her apparent blacklisting.

The actress denied these claims in a now-deleted social media post. She said she was staying with her parents in Beijing.

Reports said she had left on a private jet and was spotted at Bordeaux airport. Zhao and her husband Huang Youlong are the owners of Chateau Monlot, a vineyard outside the French city.

Other Chinese celebrities have previously fallen foul of the country's strict censors.

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