Who Is Viya? China’s Top Influencer Fined Millions For Tax Evasion

Who Is Viya
Who is Viya: China’s top social media influencer and ‘livestreaming queen’ Huang Wei, best known to fans simply as Viya, has been fined a hefty sum of 1.34 billion yuan (which equals $210 million) for alleged tax evasion. She is accused by tax authorities of concealing her personal finances between 2019 and 2020. In a statement, Wei has reportedly apologised and said she accepts the punishment handed down to her.

Wei, or Viya, is doubtless the biggest influencer star China has and has a millions-strong fan following online. The 36-year-old has promoted products across brand verticals, even including the opportunity to launch a commercial rocket last year.

The action against Wei is the latest exhibit of Chinese authorities cracking down on the country’s major celebrities. Superstar Zheng Shuang was earlier this year fined $46 million on similar charges of tax evasion for failing to declare her true taxable income. Read here.

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As per reports, Wei’s livestreaming account on the shopping media platform Taobao, where she sold products, is “inaccessible” in the wake of tax evasion accusations. Her accounts have also reportedly disappeared from social media platforms Weibo and Douyin.

BBC reported Monday that Wei’s apology was posted to her Weibo account. “I thoroughly accept the punishment made by the tax authorities,” she had written, according to the report. The influencer was reportedly scheduled to host a cosmetics event before her digital presence went missing.

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A press release from China’s State Taxation Administration, as quoted in various media reports, claims Wei evaded taxes worth 703 million yuan. A notice from the administration earlier this year had announced rules to strengthen tax measures in China’s entertainment segment, which also includes livestreaming influencers.

This is not the first time Wei, who is famous for her ability to “sell anything,” finds herself in a soup. In June this year, she faced a fine of 530,000 yuan for the breach of advertising laws. The action came following complaints raised against her for allegedly selling counterfeit items.

China’s media and censorship policies are notoriously tight, prompting discussion among fan communities online after the seeming disappearance of Wei from social media.

Global concerns, meanwhile, also abound with regard to the status and safety of the country’s top tennis star Peng Shuai who accused a Chinese Communist Party leader of #MeToo last month. In a statement this month, she retracted the sexual assault claims.