China’s ‘Lipstick King’ returns to live-streaming show after mysterious three-month disappearance

CNN Business

One of China’s most popular streamers quietly resurfaced online on Tuesday night after a three-month absence for showing up with a cake in the shape of a tank, which many saw as a blow to Tiananmen Square. Indirect reference to the massacre.

On Tuesday night, Li Jiaqi reappeared on Alibaba’s Taobao Live, the e-commerce giant’s live-streaming platform.

Despite no prior notice on his social media accounts, his show instantly drew thousands of viewers in its first few minutes. By the end of the two-hour show, 63 million viewers had watched his live broadcast, higher than most of his previous shows. But it is still lower than the traffic during the major shopping festivals.

The 30-year-old anchor, also known as Austin Li, is one of China’s biggest internet celebrities with 64 million followers on Alibaba’s He once sold 15,000 lipsticks in five minutes in a sales competition with Alibaba founder Jack Ma, earning himself the nickname “China’s Lipstick King”.

E-commerce anchor Austin Li Jiaqi attends a public welfare livestreaming ceremony in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, on September 23, 2021.

But the superstar salesman has remained silent since his hit show was abruptly cut off on the eve of this year’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre memorial day. Just before the abrupt end, Lee showed the audience a multi-layered ice cream decorated with Oreos and wafers. It’s like a tank.

Analysts said Li was almost certainly under scrutiny by the government because the shape of the tank is a sensitive symbol in China, with many linking it to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. While Li may have simply made an “unintentional” mistake, the Tiananmen crackdown was a clear one, said Han Rongbin, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, and the taboo and timing were “lethal.”

On Tuesday’s show, Lee did not explain why he disappeared or where he had been for the past three months.

Focusing solely on introducing merchandise, including makeup, skincare and fashion apparel, he was quickly snapped up by rabid of the best sellers is a face cream that has sold over 50,000 units Total sales were RMB 12.3 million ($1.75 million).

“You’re finally here!” some fans said in bullet comments scrolling across the screen. “Welcome back!”

Fans were enthusiastic, and many goods were sold out faster than expected, forcing Li Na to end the show earlier than usual. His previous live broadcasts usually lasted more than three hours.

“The stocking was in a hurry today, and many girls couldn’t grab it.” Li said at the end of the live broadcast, adding that he was sorry for the bad shopping experience because of insufficient stock. .

“Why don’t we just end it first and let it go on when we have enough,” he said. “See you tomorrow, girls.”

Li’s return quickly became a trending topic on social media, with many Weibo users giving the livestreaming star a warm welcome.

“Seeing him on screen again brought tears to my eyes!” one said. “I’ve waited so long!”

“I’m ready to shop!” said another user.

Li isn’t the only live-streaming star to disappear in recent months.

    E-commerce anchor Austin Li Jiaqi introduces merchandise to his online followers.

Via has been dubbed the “Queen of Live Streaming” since authorities fined her a record $210 million in December and has only recently appeared online. for tax evasion. The 36-year-old had millions of followers on China’s major social media and shopping platforms, including Weibo, Taobao and TikTok’s Chinese version of Douyin, but her account was deleted in December.

The sudden rise and fall of China’s most prominent influencers has highlighted the vulnerability of those who rely on the internet for a living in the world’s second-largest economy.

In June, just two weeks after Li disappeared, Beijing stepped up its crackdown on China’s booming live-streaming industry. The watchdog has issued new rules banning 31 types of “misconduct” by live streamers and requiring them to “uphold correct political and social values”.

But a crackdown on the booming live-streaming industry may not be good news for the Chinese economy.

The world’s second-largest economy is plagued by serious economic problems. Consumer spending is weak, while youth unemployment is near record highs.

Policymakers now face the growing challenge of keeping growth and jobs stable as the country grapples with the fallout from Beijing’s insistence on a strict zero-coronavirus policy, tough regulation of the private sector and a real estate crisis that has led to rising bad debts in banks and banks. Growing social protest.

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