Chinese star hauled off air over taboo dessert

China’s most popular streamer has been ripped off air after making reference to one of the most taboo topics in the country.

A Chinese blogger has been ripped off air after making reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, a topic that is still completely banned from public discussion in China.

Austin Li Jiaqi, who is China’s most popular live streamer, abruptly ended his online show promoting snacks to millions of followers on Taobao Live, the live-streaming platform for merchants on Taobao Marketplace.

Known in China as “lipstick brother” for his prominence in cosmetic advertisements, Li Jiaqi over $2 billion in goods on the first day of Alibaba’s annual shopping festival last year.

In this instance, Li Jiaqi was working with brands for China’s 618 midyear shopping festival when a peculiarly-shaped, and evidently very sensitive, product appeared on screen.

A plate of ice cream from the British brand Wall’s, layered with Oreo cookie “wheels” on the side and what appeared to be a chocolate ball and a chocolate stick on top, resembled a tank.

The stream cut to black moments later.

Li told his 50 million followers on Chinese social media platorm Weibo that his team was dealing with a “technical glitch” that apparently popped up, and asked viewers to ”wait for a moment.”

“Everybody please go to bed early. We will bring you the products that have not been broadcast (tonight) in future livestreams,” he wrote.

He returned two hours later, apologising that his live broadcast would be stopping for evening due to “a failure of our internal equipment”.

According to the South China Morning Post, the “outage” didn’t go down well with brands riding on Li Jiaqi’s influence to sell products during the shopping season.

Fans voiced concerns on Sunday when Li failed to show up for another scheduled show. On Monday, his name registered zero results on Taobao, the website his shopping stream is hosted on.

China has continued its crackdown on anything vaguely resembling the Tiananmen Square massacre, even going so far as wiping coded phrases like “May 35” from the internet.

Internet searches made within China return censored results. Any published articles must be consistent with the government’s version of events.

However, censorship analysts believe the case has placed Chinese authorities in an awkward bind. If they move to completely censor one of the nation’s most viewed internet personalities, authorities risk bringing more attention to a topic they have worked for 33 years to suppress.

“Censorship is all about keeping the truth from the public. But if people don‘t know about it, they are bound to keep making ’mistakes’ like this,” analyst at China Digital Times Eric Liu said via CNN.

In 2021, social media app Xiaohongshu had its Weibo account shut down after the company publicly defied the government with the question: “Tell me loudly, what is the date today?” on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

The infamous massacre of largely unarmed protesters occurred on June 4, 1989 and was sparked by demonstrators trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. Troops with assault rifles and tanks fired on the protesters.

The death toll is thought to be anywhere between several hundreds and thousands of people.

Read related topics:China


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