The 37-year-old megastar made an appearance at the online video platform IQIYI’s ninth anniversary gala in Beijing.
She posted an Instagram picture of herself at the event in an outfit by Alexander McQueen, potentially signalling an end to life outside the limelight.
The 37-year-old actress is best-known internationally for her role in X-Men: Days of Future Past but has a career spanning two decades and is known as the face of major luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and British diamond company De Beers.
She carried items from both companies to the IQIYI gala, according to the Instagram post, which is her first on the social media platform since May 2018, other than a brief Chinese New Year greeting earlier this year.
Users of the app gave her a mixed welcome.
“You were made an example of, even though you made up for the taxes,” wrote Chinese Instagram user joooke2, whose comment on the star’s post was the most liked Chinese language one. Fan in October paid the Chinese government 883 million yuan ($129 million) in fines and unpaid taxes. “It’s good you’re back as the entertainment circle is quite boring without you.”
But others questioned the morals of those who were willing to accept the actress’ return. A post on Chinese social media website Weibo which asked why her Instagram post hadn't been blocked received 120,000 likes.
Fan disappeared from public life in July, when she was placed under house arrest, sparking endless speculation about her situation. Chinese authorities at the time banned all search terms related to the actress.
It came as the government went after the film industry last year, saying it “fosters a tendency to worship money”, “misleads young people to blindly chase stars”, and that it was “distorting social values”.
It capped actor salaries at 40 per cent of the total cost of production, and lead actors' pay at 70 per cent of all actors' salaries in a production.