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  • A famous Chinese YouTuber

  • Showcases rural life in China

  • Everyone loves it

  • Especially the Chinese Communist Party

  • Welcome to China Uncensored, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • Modern China can be a chaotic place.

  • Crowded streets. Traffic jamsPolice blocking your camera.

  • Thank Mao there's a way to relax! Retreat to the  countryside. Enjoy the quiet life, the traditional  

  • life of a Chinese farmer, like back in the day...  before Mao totally didn't starve farmers to death.

  • And that brings us to YouTube star Li Ziqi.

  • Li Ziqi's YouTube channel is all about daily  life in rural China. She prepares meals and  

  • other tasks for her and her grandmother  using only the nature that surrounds them.

  • Her channel showcases  homestyle farming and cooking.  

  • She uses homegrown ingredients to prepare  dishes in traditional ways. Think farming  

  • documentary plus reality TV plus cooking  showall in a colorful, quiet lifestyle vlog.

  • Some people have called Li Ziqi the Martha  Stewart of the Chinese countryside

  • Although I don't think even Martha  Stewart plants and picks her own cotton,  

  • so she can turn it into a handmade mattress.

  • I mean, who doesn't love picking cotton!

  • Except obviously half a million  forced laborers in Xinjiang.

  • At any rate, Li Ziqi's videos are  beautifully shot and produced. And  

  • they're hugely popular around the world. She  has more than 27 million followers on Weibo,  

  • China's version of Twitter. And she has  nearly 15 million subscribers on YouTube,  

  • breaking the Guinness world record for  most subscribed Chinese language channel.

  • All of this is great. And I mean that  for real. She makes great videos.

  • But unfortunately, things are  never so simple in communist China.

  • Under China's authoritarian regime, it's not  always easy when you get too much publicity.  

  • Make one wrong move, and you could be  in deep trouble. Like in 2018 when a  

  • live streamer was sent to jail for singing  China's national anthem in a goofy manner.

  • To be fair, I like her version...

  • Bum bum bum, qi lai!”

  • ...at least compared to the official version.

  • Luckily for Li Ziqi, her content is focused  on nature. Her only dialog is with her pets  

  • and her grandma. So she's probably safe  from politically motivated censorship.

  • In fact, Li Ziqi is more than just safe.  

  • Chinese state-run media actively  support Li Ziqi's YouTube stardom.

  • Supporters argue that [Li] has  done more to sell Chinese culture  

  • than the Confucius Institute, the  government-backed soft power promotional  

  • organization with a presence  in more than 100 countries.”

  • Yes, Chinese state-run media absolutely  love Li Ziqi. So much so, that Li was  

  • invited to be the Promotion Ambassador  for China's Communist Youth League.

  • And just in case that wasn't enoughPeople's Daily even co-branded with Li Ziqi  

  • to sell plum snail powder  noodles to her fans in China.

  • Yes. Plum Snail Powder Noodles. Yum.

  • Of course, in many ways it's great  that such a talented person gets  

  • good press and opportunities like this.

  • But it does raise a few questions. Which I'll  get into, after this quick commercial break.

  • Welcome back. The Chinese Communist  Party endorses Li Ziqi's YouTube channel.  

  • And that brings with it some issues.

  • The most obvious one is: How is Li  free to use YouTube, which is banned  

  • in China? The Chinese government hands  out punishments to netizens who access  

  • YouTube through a VPN. Like that guy Lonely  Flywho we did a video about just last month.

  • But Li Ziqi's YouTube channel  somehow gets a free pass.

  • Another issue is, she's allowed to promote  this kind of traditional culturethe kind of  

  • culture Mao tried to wipe out. And she's doing  it at a time when the Chinese Communist Party  

  • wants to promote its Skyscrapers...5G  technology... and high speed trains.

  • The Party has been trying to bury  the memory of laborious farm work...

  • and promote everything modern.

  • But as it turns out, viewers around the world  are actually much more captivated by Li Ziqi's  

  • vivid presentation of China's traditional farm  life than they are by China's modern technology.  

  • The culture the Chinese Communist  Party once tried desperately to destroy  

  • is now what's giving them the  positive attention they crave.

  • And that's why Chinese  state-run media doesn't hesitate  

  • to approve Li Ziqi. Her videos can promote  China's soft power and global influence.

  • At the same time, her videos are in line with  the Chinese Communist Party's new campaign  

  • of rural revitalization, as well as its ideas  ofrejuvenationof the Chinese nation.

  • So Li Ziqi can keep her YouTube channelbecause of her influence outside of China.  

  • Li Ziqi carries out the same agenda as Chinese  state-run media, only better. It's almost as  

  • if her quiet traditional life snippets are  a solution to China's lack of soft power.

  • Soft power has been pretty high up on  the Communist Party's priority list.  

  • Back in 2007, then-Chinese leader Hu Jintao  

  • said, “We must enhance culture as part  of the soft power of our country.”

  • And thatWe will further publicize the fine  traditions of Chinese culture and strengthen  

  • international cultural exchanges to enhance  the influence of Chinese culture worldwide.”

  • According to Joseph Nye, who coined the  termsoft power,” China suffers a soft  

  • power deficit for two main reasonsfirstthe promotion of nationalism, which propels  

  • an assertive approach to conflicts and antagonizes  foreign audiences; and second, China's soft power  

  • does not derive from civil society but from  government sources, which lack credibility.

  • In other words, centralized  government power isn't fun to watch.  

  • When they come out with rap groups who lay down  tracks celebrating the Party's growing military...

  • ...people watch that and think it's garbage.

  • But people enjoy Li Ziqi's videos.

  • The problem is that they don't represent  the life of a real Chinese farmer

  • And they don't represent  urban Chinese life either.

  • It's all an escapist fantasy. Now, although  she's on YouTube, Li Ziqi's content is  

  • mostly for a domestic Chinese audience that she  reaches through Chinese social media platforms.  

  • And it's a burned-out urban audience  that longs to escape to the countryside.

  • They know it's a rural fantasybut that's what they want.  

  • It's a nostalgia for a way of life  that's gone. If all this sounds familiar,  

  • that's because there's a Western version  of this rural escapism called cottagecore

  • I mean, I get it. That's basically  why I play Stardew Valley.  

  • Well, that and my love for Abigail.

  • But the difference is that Li Ziqi's escapist  fantasy is also great for the Chinese Communist  

  • Party. Li's channel and comment section show  the beautiful side of China, and it works in the  

  • Party's favor that this is on YouTube's platformNot only do people outside China get to watch the  

  • wonders of China's traditional lifestyle, but also  anyone in China who uses a VPN to access YouTube  

  • can feel proud of their nation when they see  how well received Chinese culture is worldwide.

  • It's like the Chinese saying, “Yi Shi Er  Niao” 一石二鳥, which literally translates as,  

  • One stone, two birds.” 

  • Why does every culture have a phrase about  killing birds with stones? Who does that?!

  • I guess that's also a way of life that's gone

  • Anyway, the Chinese Communist Party is  having more and more trouble maintaining  

  • a good image around the world. Even  before the 2020 CCP Virus outbreak,  

  • people in many countries have had  increasingly negative views of China.

  • So to fix this problem, the Chinese regime tries  to blur the lines between Chinese culture and the  

  • Chinese Communist Party. This conveniently  fogs up the perception of China as a whole.  

  • China is beautiful, China is peaceful

  • China is definitely not armed with a large  military ready to invade its neighbors!

  • Now, I'm not saying the Communist Party is  directly pulling the strings on Li Ziqi like  

  • a puppet, and I'm not here to discredit  her work. She and her production crew  

  • obviously put a lot of effort into these videos.

  • But the reality is, Li Ziqi doesn't represent  what life is like for most of China's 500  

  • million farmers. Farmers who are mostly  suffering under the CCP's authoritarian rule.

  • And FYI, when the CCP claims poverty has been  eliminated for them. That's simply not true.

  • But life sure is good for Li Ziqi.

  • And now it's time for me to answer a question from  a viewer who supports China Uncensored on Patreon.

  • Ahmad Shumayal asks: “Is OnePlus phone (BBK  Group) also guilty of forced labour of Uyghyurs?  

  • Should we boycott OnePlus as well?”

  • Good question, Ahamad.

  • BBK Group is a Chinese conglomerate. And asChinese companyeven a privately owned onethey  

  • have to do the bidding of the Chinese  Communist Party and the Chinese military,  

  • if they're called upon.

  • For example, if the CCP asks them  to put spyware on their phones,  

  • they would have to figure out a way to do it.  

  • I'm not saying they do. But the US has accused  Huawei of spying on mobile phone users...

  • so it's a realistic possibility  for BBK's OnePlus phones as well.

  • Now I don't know whether or not  BBK Group uses Uyghur slave labor.  

  • But security concerns alone should be enough  to convince you to boycott its OnePlus phones.

  • Thanks for your question, Ahamad.

  • Be like Ahamad and support China Uncensored  on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/ChinaUncensored  

  • to learn more.

  • Once again, I'm Chris ChappellThanks for watching China Uncensored.

A famous Chinese YouTuber

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The Mystery of Chinese YouTube Star Liziqi

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    zijun su に公開 2021 年 06 月 17 日
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