Lifestyle vlogger Li Ziqi has become the first Chinese-language account to amass more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube, according to Sina Tech, a milestone that has been widely celebrated on Chinese social media. A hashtag related to the news has been viewed more than 410 million times on microblogging platform Weibo, with commenters praising Li’s dissemination of Chinese culture. YouTube has been blocked by China’s internet censorship apparatus since 2009.
Li’s videos of bucolic rural life in western China have seen her become a huge star. Her idyllic-looking scenes of farming and cooking with her grandma have struck a chord with audiences across China — and seemingly internationally — and allowed her to build up a considerable ecommerce empire on the back of her videos’ escapist themes.
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“She’s done a great job promoting Chinese culture,” reads the most highly upvoted comment on Sina Tech‘s Weibo post about the milestone. “If Chinese people were all like those in Li Ziqi’s videos it’d be beautiful.”
“She’s passing on Chinese culture and showing the beauty of our rural life to the outside world,” reads another.
Yet some users have questioned how Li’s videos have ended up on an overseas video platform that is technically blocked within mainland China’s borders (savvy netizens are able to use a VPN to access sites beyond the so-called Great Firewall, though personal use of such software is meant to be largely prohibited).
“It’s true that there are still people who illegally link with [such sites], but there are also plenty of overseas operators who provide services for this,” explains one Li Ziqi defender. “She’s not doing anything wrong.”
For the most part, Li’s breaking of the 10 million barrier is being seen as a win for “Chinese culture” overseas. Though she still has some way to go to match her 24.5 million fans on Weibo.
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