Chinese girls youtube

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Photo: Screenshot of Zhang Yuxuan's YouTube video

Photo: Screenshot of Zhang Yuxuan's YouTube video

"She got a beautiful eye, walk in a line, smile with her type; She knows all about life, never ask why, driving everyone crazy, crazy…" Everyone is surprised that this original song, She, which has so far topped more than 10 million views on China's popular video platform Bilibili was produced by a 15-year-old girl in only 30 minutes.

Zhang Yuxuan, better known as Vicky Xuanxuan on social media, is under the spotlight on Chinese social media for her music and was praised by Chinese netizens as the "young Chinese Taylor Swift."

"I have never thought the song Shewould be so popular," Zhang, a middle school student at the Shenzhen Arts School, majoring in violin, told the Global Times. 

"A melody suddenly popped out of my head when I was having a math class. I quickly wrote a few lyrics and melody on my notebook, and after class, I rushed home and took less than half an hour to finish the lyrics and melody," Zhang mentioned adding that she drew inspiration from the movie The Devil Wears Prada.

With its crisp voice and humorous expression, the video of the song She topped Bilibili's recommended list. She has become one of the most popular music bloggers on the platform and also opened her account on YouTube and has attracted 42,600 followers.

Zhang told the Global Times she fell in love with English songs when she was a primary student. She registered on Bilibili when she was 13 years old and in 2019, she posted her first original song December Composerwhich has been viewed millions of times. "So far, I have produced 26 songs and there are dozens of songs that have not been released," she said.

She also invited Allie Sherlock, a famous Irish teen singer and YouTube celebrity, with 4.47 million fans, to sing Dance Monkeytogether, which also helped her earn a lot of fans. 

After being so popular, Zhang told the Global Times she felt a bit of stressed and she cares more about the quality of her work. "I will check my comments sometimes, mainly the funny ones," Zhang mentioned. She also imitated US singer Madilyn Bailey and wrote a song in a reaction to the people who use verbal aggression on her. 

Zhang has received many invitations to music and variety shows but she has refused them due to her young age. She said she still needs to make study her priority and only spends her time off to produce music. 

"I like to try all kinds of styles. I tend to put a little emphasis on country and folk styles. I have always wanted to try Chinese songs. My idols are Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and many other good singers," Zhang told the Global Times.

She said her dream is to go to one of the world's top music schools like the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"I still have a lot to learn including my main subjects like, English skills and composition. I hope I can become a songwriter and work with the musicians I like," she said.


Li Ziqi (vlogger)

Chinese vlogger, entrepreneur and Internet celebrity

In this Chinese name, the family name is Li.

Li Ziqi ([lì tsɹ̩̀.tɕʰí]; Chinese: 李子柒; born 6 July 1990), is a Chinese video blogger, entrepreneur, and Internet celebrity.[3] She is known for creating food and handicraft preparation videos in her hometown of rural Pingwu County, Mianyang, north-central Sichuan province, southwest China, often from basic ingredients and tools using traditional Chinese techniques.[4][5][6][7] Her YouTube channel has more than 2.4 billion views[a] and 16 million subscribers, as verified on 21 August 2021, which is a Guinness World Record for "The most subscribers for a Chinese language channel on YouTube".[8]

Early life[edit]

Li was born on 6 July 1990 in Sichuan, China, originally named "Li Jiajia" (Chinese: 李佳佳; pinyin: Lǐ Jiājiā).[9] She was orphaned at a very young age.[10] In an interview with Goldthread, Li stated that she moved in with her grandparents after her stepmother mistreated her.[11]


Li started posting her videos on Meipai in 2015.[12] Initially, Li made her videos by herself, but her video editing skills at the time failed to "capture the creativity" she tried to express. In 2016, one of Li's videos titled Peach Wine caught the attention of a video-making platform CEO, who featured the video on the platform's front page, which soon elicited more followers for Li's channel. She released her first video to YouTube in 2017 with the title "Making a dress out of grape skins."[13] As of June 2020, she had 11.7 million subscribers on YouTube, over 26.3 million followers on Sina Weibo,[14] over 3.5 million followers on Facebook,[15] and has inspired many bloggers to post similar content.[16][17][12][18]

Her mainland audience includes urban millennials.[19] Li's popularity may be attributed to fugu (复古, retro-nostalgia), a growing appreciation in modern China for traditional culture.[20] In an interview with Goldthread in September 2019, Li stated "I simply want people in the city to know where their food comes from."[11]

A majority of Li's videos focus on traditional foods and antiques.[21] Besides food preparation videos, other popular videos of Li's include creating makeup and dresses from grape skins.[22] Li rarely speaks in her videos, and the sounds of nature, cooking, and calm music are most prominent. Hemispheres magazine stated, "The only narration is friendly banter between Li and her grandmother, but the sounds—the singing of birds, the crunch of frost underfoot, the thwack of a cleaver, the sizzle of frying garlic—lure you into an ASMR trance, so you don't even notice how many videos you've binged."[23]

In 2018, she launched a food brand under her own name and sold prepackaged food through e-commerce.[24]

She was awarded the People's Choice Award by the Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper in September 2019.[25] In August 2020, Li was nominated as a member of the All-China Youth Federation.[26][27] Li, along with Ms Yeah and Dianxi Xiaoge, are the only Chinese Internet celebrities who have reached international prominence.[28]

Since her last video in July 2021, Li has put her vlogger career on hiatus due to a legal dispute with her business partners.[29]


State-run China Central Television praised her and stated "Without a word commending China, Li promotes Chinese culture in a good way and tells a good China story."[30] Scholars have described her videos as a channel for Chinese government soft power.[19][30][31] Li's videos have also been criticized for gentrifying contemporary rural life in China.[32][19]

Personal life[edit]

Li lives with her grandmother, who occasionally appears in videos,[33] in the countryside of Mianyang in Southwest China's Sichuan.[17] When Li was in fifth grade, her grandfather died, thus her grandmother was unable to pay for her education, this prompted Li to drop out of school at the age of 14 to work in the city, some of the jobs she worked at include being a waitress (2016–2017), a disc jockey (2007–2013), and a singer (2006–2007).[34] In 2012, she moved back to take care of her grandmother, who was sickly at that time.[35]

At the start, Li sold agricultural products on Taobao as a way to earn a living before moving on to be a blogger.[34]

Initially doing all photography and editing by herself, as she gained popularity and experience, her recent online videos are produced with the help of a personal assistant and a videographer.[11]


  1. ^2,495,364,746 views as of 21 August 2021.[1] Of her 122 publicly listed videos on her channel, the most popular has 78 million views, with the lowest view count at 2.9 million, and she has 16 million subscribers (as of 21 August 2021).


  1. ^ ab"About". 李子柒 Liziqi. Archived from the original on 13 March 2020. Retrieved 2 March 2020 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ ab"About 李子柒 Liziqi". YouTube.
  3. ^Yamaguchi, David (14 March 2019). "SANSEI JOURNAL: Everything Comes From China". North American Post. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  4. ^Simonienko, Maxim (26 March 2019). "Une artiste chinoise propose un tutoriel pour fabriquer des outils de calligraphie". ActuaLitté (in French). Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  5. ^Shi, Yinglun, ed. (2 August 2018). "100 Chinese selected as "good young netizens"". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 8 May 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  6. ^Rahmil, David-Julien (5 March 2019). "L'une des plus jolies chaînes de YouTube serait en réalité un outil de propagande massive". L'ADN (in French). Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  7. ^"揭秘2017最火网红"古风美食第一人"李子柒". (in Chinese). 27 July 2017. Archived from the original on 8 May 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  8. ^"Li Ziqi breaks YouTube subscribers record for Chinese language channel". Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records Limited. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  9. ^Che, Hui (30 December 2019). ""李子柒现象"背后的网红出海". Workers' Daily (in Chinese). p. 5. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  10. ^Cao, Jing (31 December 2019). "All You Want to Know about Li Ziqi (李子柒)". DigMandarin. Archived from the original on 1 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  11. ^ abcWu, Venus (13 September 2019). "Exclusive: Behind the scenes with Li Ziqi, China's most mysterious internet celebrity". Goldthread. Archived from the original on 25 April 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  12. ^ abDumke, Erin (13 April 2019). "Li Ziqi: The Online Celebrity Bringing Ol' School Traditions to the Modern World". Chinosity. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  13. ^"Li Ziqi breaks YouTube subscribers record for Chinese language channel". Guinness World Records. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  14. ^"李子柒的微博". Sina Weibo (in Chinese). Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  15. ^"李子柒". Facebook. Archived from the original on 18 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.[non-primary source needed]
  16. ^Li, Weida (25 January 2019). "Top YouTube channels to learn about China". GBTimes. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  17. ^ abDoyen, Léa (3 October 2018). "This Chinese youtube girl teaches us how tofu is made". Emotions. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  18. ^Nigari (7 May 2018). "La youtubeuse Li Ziqi et la tradition chinoise ancestrale". AgoraVox (in French). Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  19. ^ abcMatei, Adrienne (28 January 2020). "Country life: the young female farmer who is now a top influencer in China". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 23 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  20. ^Yang, Chunmei (6 November 2017). "China's Cultural Revivalists: More Than Just Quirky Throwbacks". Sixth Tone. Archived from the original on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  21. ^Zhang, Shen, ed. (12 December 2019). "美食博主李子柒为什么收获关注?中纪委网站这样说". Sina News (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  22. ^Li, Ziqi (24 August 2017). Making a dress with grape skins, what kind of experience is it?. 李子柒 Liziqi. Archived from the original on 18 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020 – via YouTube.
  23. ^Freeman, Ellen (1 December 2019). "How One Chinese Vlogger is Inspiring Armchair Wanderlust". Hemispheres. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  24. ^Wang, Jeffrey (6 August 2020). "Li Ziqi has Set Up a New Food Company and May Export Chinese Food". Panda!Yoo. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  25. ^Yan, Alice (11 December 2019). "Chinese state media approves of YouTube star Li Ziqi". Inkstone News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  26. ^Zhang, Wanqing (18 August 2020). "Chinese Web Celebs Appointed to Party-Backed Youth Organization". Sixth Tone. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  27. ^Li, Jill (12 August 2020). "As China's Vloggers Draw International Fans, Beijing Sees Soft Power Opportunity". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  28. ^诸未静 (23 December 2019). 林涛 (ed.). "网红出海热 谁能成为下一个"李子柒"?" [Internet celebrities are become popular overseas. Who can become the next "Li Ziqi"?]. Southern Metropolis Daily (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021 – via Nanfang Daily.
  29. ^What Happened to Li Ziqi, China’s Most Famous YouTuber?
  30. ^ abYan, Alice (11 December 2019). "Chinese state media joins rural life blogger Li Ziqi's millions of followers". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  31. ^Kim, Jo (5 May 2020). "Will Internet Celebrities Become China's New Channel for Projecting Soft Power?". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  32. ^"Escape to the country". Week in China. No. 480. 24 January 2020. pp. 13–14. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  33. ^Li, Ziqi (17 December 2017). A multi layer sole shoes for my grandma, in memory of good old days给奶奶做了双千层底,重温儿时一针一线的旧时光. 李子柒 Liziqi. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ abDuan, Xiaoer (17 December 2019). "「農村網紅」李子柒衝出國際並獲中國官媒加持,你有看過她的影片嗎?" ["Rural Net Red" Li Ziqi rushed out of the world and was blessed by Chinese official media. Have you seen her video?]. The Initium (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  35. ^"【放過李子柒】李子柒爆紅幕後團隊與全商業版圖". (in Chinese). 12 December 2019. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.

External links[edit]

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  • Sours:
    Are Chinese Girls Easy?

    The foreigners in China’s disinformation drive

    By Kerry Allen & Sophie Williams
    BBC News

    Foreign video bloggers denouncing what they say is negative coverage of China on highly controversial subjects such as Xinjiang are attracting large numbers of subscribers on platforms like YouTube.

    In recent years, the "vloggers" have been increasingly presenting themselves as China-lovers, spreading Communist Party disinformation.

    YouTube labels Chinese state media like broadcaster CGTN as government-funded. But there is little policing when it comes to individuals promoting similar narratives.

    Some vloggers are suspected of co-operating with state-owned outlets to spread China's rhetoric to the world. But it's far from clear what really motivates them, or how effective this strategy is.

    Co-ordinated videos have recently been appearing on foreign vloggers' channels to counter investigative reports from independent media on the treatment of China's Uyghur community in its north-west Xinjiang region.

    There are well-documented allegations of systematic human rights abuses on a huge scale in the region.

    The vloggers include British expatriates Barrie Jones, Jason Lightfoot and father-and-son team Lee and Oli Barrett, who use their platforms to comment on the West's alleged "lies" and China's government policies.

    They have subsequently gone on to appear in videos for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.

    Earlier videos on their personal channels focus on navigating daily life within China. More recent videos, however, have become overtly political; they staunchly defend China's rhetoric on topics ranging from Covid-19, to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

    Many of these YouTubers have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and their videos are fiercely promoted and commented on by nationalist users.

    'Never been paid to go on a trip'

    Vlogging is popular in China, but Chinese video platforms have strict terms and conditions, restricting what users can post. Thousands of internet moderators also screen content.

    Consequently, many Chinese vloggers end up posting material filmed from within their homes.

    China's 1982 constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, Chinese vloggers and citizen journalists are often detained or arrested for making videos deemed to be unfavourable by the authorities. In December 2020, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was jailed for four years after making a number of vlogs during Wuhan's coronavirus outbreak.

    Expat vloggers like the Barretts and Jason Lightfoot, however, appear to be in a comparatively privileged position with significant access, and in some cases facilitated by local officials or state media in China.

    The Barretts have attended multiple government-sponsored events.

    In one of his videos, Lee Barrett comments that organisations like state-owned China Radio International will "offer to pay for the transport, the flights [and] accommodation" in exchange for him and his son commenting on their trip in state media.

    In an email to the BBC, the Barretts strenuously denied they post disinformation on behalf of the Chinese government or being paid for content.

    Lee Barrett has been listed as a "global stringer" on CGTN's website in recent videos on Xinjiang - that is, somebody who reports for the broadcaster, but is not a staff employee.

    Jason Lightfoot is also on its list of stringers. The station billed him as a vlogger critical of "distorted reports" by Western media outlets.

    Mr Lightfoot recently appeared in a number of CGTN videos alongside multiple staff reporters on a visit to Hainan.

    CGTN says in one such video that Mr Lightfoot "is grateful to CGTN for giving him the experience to explore Hainan" and that CGTN staff and expat vloggers "enjoyed working together, producing livestreams and videos as a team".

    Mr Lightfoot did not respond to the BBC's request for an interview. However, in one of his videos he says he is "not funded by anyone but myself" and has "never been paid to go on a trip".

    Although YouTube does not label any of these pro-China vloggers as being funded or supported by the Chinese government, some videos on their personal channels are subsequently uploaded to and endorsed by government media accounts.

    A video featuring Barrie Jones was not only uploaded to CGTN's YouTube account, it was used by China's foreign ministry in a daily government press briefing.

    Image source, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    In the video - titled "How do some Western media twist facts about Xinjiang?" - Mr Jones claims to have "worked for a newspaper in England… Britain's largest daily circulation newspaper for six years". Some state media publications have referred to Mr Jones as a former British journalist, yet the BBC found no evidence to support this, and his channel is peppered with grammatical and punctuation errors.

    When asked about his journalism experience, Mr Jones told the BBC "where and when" he worked as a journalist "is not your concern".

    He stood by his claim to have worked for a newspaper but declined to give any further information. He also denied being "paid, prompted, or coerced in any way".

    It's unclear why China's foreign ministry presented him as a credible voice at its news conference.

    Mr Jones, who also regularly promotes conspiracy theories, denied that his videos had become more political and described claims that he is part of a disinformation campaign as "laughable".

    "Neither China nor the Chinese government pay me to do what I do. The truth is, if they offered I would accept!"

    China's 'fightback' against foreign reporting

    There appears to be a growing network of foreigners being pulled into Chinese state media campaigns.

    It aims to expand its influencer pool further by offering cash rewards of up to $10,000 (about £7,190) to reporters, podcasters, presenters and influencers who join its newly-launched "media challengers" campaign. Jason Lightfoot, and Lee and Oli Barrett have appeared in promotional material for this campaign.

    CGTN did not respond when the BBC approached it for comment for this article.

    But multiple sources at CGTN who spoke to the BBC on the condition of anonymity said there is now a focus within the organisation to make use of "internet celebrities and influencers" for what has been described as a "fightback" against foreign media reporting.

    This has included setting up a new "internet celebrities" department whose team "contact foreigners to either use their videos or to co-operate to make videos together", the BBC was told. More recently, some departments have been instructed to "find foreigners to send to Xinjiang to represent us".

    Israeli vlogger Raz Gal-Or has posted videos of his recent trips to the region. Mr Gal-Or claims he was invited into people's homes and farms in Xinjiang and says in a video he was able to interview "random Xinjiang locals". However it appears he was accompanied on his trip by a film crew from CGTN, who later shared footage of his video on their YouTube channel.

    This experience contrasts with the surveillance, harassment and obstruction faced by the BBC and other media when attempting to report freely in Xinjiang.

    Mr Gal-Or did not respond to the BBC's request for an interview.

    'It's almost always the Xinjiang content'

    All of the named vloggers, who are able to monetise their videos, have quickly racked up tens of thousands of views on their channels, as well as hundreds of comments from highly-active, nationalist commenters, despite YouTube being officially blocked in China.

    Australian cybersecurity researcher Robert Potter from Internet 2.0 says that although some videos attract genuine views and support, there is evidence that fake bot accounts are fiercely promoting others.

    "There are a few things that YouTube does to stop someone repeatedly opening a video and playing it a thousand times," he explains. "Because it's money to them, if it's a monetised video."

    Of the Barretts' YouTube page, he says: "You can see a lot of nationalist boards reposting [videos] and a mix of fake news sites boosting their content.

    "This is 'bot fraud', where [users] stick a video on a fake news website and click through that instead of clicking replay on the YouTube video. They try and spoof YouTube into treating it like a legitimate view."

    He observed similar activity on Barrie Jones' videos. "There are a number of fake news pages with links to his videos on Xinjiang.

    "As for the comments on his videos, a large number of the users joined YouTube very recently. You can see the same people commenting again and again with obviously fraudulent accounts all created around the same time."

    What type of content are these users targeting?

    "The video that blows up is the Xinjiang video. It's almost always the Xinjiang content," Mr Potter said.

    Traditionally, such commenters have been known as China's "50 cent army", because of reports they are paid small amounts of money to post pro-government messages.

    This "keyboard army" has long been active, and an influx of messages on foreigners' videos has aroused suspicions that they are circumventing the Chinese firewall to inflate these vloggers' presence, and manipulate commentary on their pages.

    The scale of China's 50 Cent operation is such that such videos could in theory rack up thousands of views organically. However, China has a recent history of co-ordinated media campaigns.

    During the 2019 Hong Kong protests, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube said they witnessed a co-ordinated attempt by the Chinese government to spread disinformation on their channels.

    Google said attempts were made to "disguise the origin of these accounts", and platforms took swift action to remove them.

    News website Sixth Tone also noted in May how "click farms" increasingly operate on Chinese social media to boost local influencers' presence.

    In 2020, China's advertising association banned companies from using click farms for commercial gains. But operations to inflate propaganda are permissible.

    'Anti-China biased BBC'

    It's unclear what drives the foreign vloggers - whether they believe in China's messaging or are motivated by the lure of local fame and fortune instead.

    The BBC put this question to Lee Barrett and Barrie Jones and asked why their videos had become more patriotic, but we received evasive responses. The Barretts posted on Twitter when approached for this article, describing it as a "hit piece" by the "anti-China biased BBC".

    The motivation for China's government media working with the expat vloggers, however, seems clear enough at a time when there is growing international criticism of China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and on other issues.

    Broadcaster CGTN is seeking to counter criticism - like its Russian counterpart RT - by finding foreign faces who can help sell government messaging overseas, and keyboard armies that help promote them.

    YouTube already labels these media platforms as state-affiliated.

    A spokesperson for YouTube said its labelling on government videos is "intended to help better equip viewers with information to make decisions about their news consumption". It said that all videos uploaded to YouTube must comply with its community guidelines, and it reviews flagged videos on a case-by-case basis.

    YouTube said that the videos sent to it by the BBC did not violate its guidelines.

    However, many users will find it hard to spot that vloggers are attached to state-affiliated outlets when platforms like YouTube do not also label these individuals as being linked to the state.

    More on this story


    Girls youtube chinese

    The Reclusive Food Celebrity Li Ziqi Is My Quarantine Queen

    critic’s notebook

    In isolation, the D.I.Y. fantasy world of the Chinese YouTube star is a dreamy escape, and a lesson in self-reliance.


    Like so many home cooks in quarantine, after I’ve used up the green tops of my scallions, I drop the white, hairy roots into a glass of water to regenerate, feeling pleased with my own sense of thrift and pragmatism.

    But last week, after the Chinese internet star Li Ziqi posted a new cooking video to YouTube called “The Life of Garlic,” I wished I could graduate from scallions on the windowsill.

    In the 12-minute video, which already has over seven million views, Ms. Li pushes garlic cloves into a patch of earth outside her home. A time lapse shows the sprouts growing, reaching up toward the sky.

    Ms. Li sautées the young, fresh green garlic shoots with pork. When she harvests the bulbs, she plaits the stems, hanging them up to finish the drying process, pickling and preserving the rest, and using some to season chicken feet and dress salad.

    Ms. Li, who lives in a village in Sichuan Province and rarely speaks to press, looks not unlike a Disney princess in her crown braids, wearing a silvery fur cape, trudging gracefully in the snow. At 29, she is famous for her mesmerizing videos of rural self-sufficiency, posted on Weibo and YouTube.

    For a worldwide audience in isolation, her D.I.Y. pastoral fantasies have become a reliable source of escape and comfort.

    I usually plan to watch one — just one — but then I let the algorithm guide me to another, and another, until, soothed by bird song and instrumentals, I’m convinced that I’m absorbing useful information from Ms. Li about how to live off the land.

    If I’m ever stuck with two dozen sweet potatoes, I now have some idea how to extract the starch and use it to make noodles. This is what I tell myself. Leave me alone in a lotus pond, and I know how to harvest and prepare the roots.

    Ms. Li doesn’t explain anything as she goes. In fact, she tends to work in silence, without the use of any modern kitchen gadgets. Her sieve is a gourd. Her grater is a piece of metal that she punctures, at an angle, then attaches to two pieces of wood. Her basin is a stream, where she washes the dirt from vegetables.

    Her kitchen is nothing like mine, in Los Angeles. But watching Ms. Li on my laptop, while eating a bowl of buttered popcorn for dinner, I think maybe I could be happy living like that, too, soaking in the sheer natural beauty of the countryside, devoting myself to extremely traditional ways of cooking.

    Ms. Li makes peach blossom wine and cherry wine, preserves loquats and rose petals. She makes fresh tofu, and Lanzhou-style noodle soup with a perfectly clear broth, and ferments Sichuan broad bean paste from scratch. She butchers ducks and whole animals.

    She is not known for taking shortcuts. A video about matsutake mushrooms begins with her building the grill to cook them, laying the bricks down one at a time, scraping the mortar smooth, then hunting for mushrooms in the woods.

    In a video about cooking fish, she first goes fishing, in the snow, patiently throwing back any catches that are too small, as snowflakes freeze into her hair.

    Like the main character in some kind of post-apocalyptic novel, Ms. Li is almost always alone, though she doesn’t seem lonely, riding her horse through fields of wildflowers, or carrying baskets of sweet potatoes under citrus trees. She seems tireless, focused, confident, independent.

    The videos are deeply soothing. But it’s not just that — they reveal the intricacy and intensity of labor that goes into every single component of every single dish, while also making the long, solitary processes of producing food seem meaningful and worthwhile.

    It’s the complete opposite of most cooking content, the kind that suggests that everything is so quick and easy that you can do it, too, and probably in less than 30 minutes.

    But Ms. Li also romanticizes the struggles of farm life, and, as any savvy influencer would, monetizes that appeal. In her online shop, she sells a curved cleaver, similar to the ones she uses in her videos, as well as loose Hanfu-inspired linen clothing, Sichuan ginseng honey and chile sauces.

    Skeptics are suspicious of her access to YouTube in China, where the platform is blocked. And though it seems unlikely, some people have wondered in the comment sections if her videos are propaganda.

    Ms. Li’s story, as she tells it, is that she left home as a teenager to find work, but returned to the countryside to take care of her grandmother, then began documenting her life. Though she used to shoot her videos alone, on her phone, she now works with an assistant and a videographer.

    “I simply want people in the city to know where their food comes from,” Ms. Li said, in a rare interview with Goldthread last fall. (She never responded to my requests.)

    But most of the world’s food, whether in China or the United States, doesn’t come from anyone’s backyard, and isn’t made from scratch. Noodles are produced and packaged in factories. Chickens and pigs are gutted on fast, dangerous lines.

    The fragility of our industrial supply chains, and the immense risks for the people who work in commercial plants and slaughterhouses, have been laid bare in the last few weeks.

    Ms. Li sidesteps the existence of that broken system entirely. This is the powerful fantasy of her videos right now — people growing and cooking all of their own food, not wasting anything, and not needing anything more than what they already have around them.

    In isolation, watching Ms. Li gather rose petals and ripe tomatoes, I catch myself thinking, is this sequence set in the past, or the future? Are these videos a record of the collective food knowledge we’ve already lost, or an idealized vision of its recovery?

    David Bowie - China Girl (Official Video)

    Country life: the young female farmer who is now a top influencer in China

    Since she began posting rustic-chic videos of her life in rural Sichuan province in 2016, Li Ziqi, 29, has become one of China’s biggest social media stars. She has 22 million followers on the microblogging site Weibo, 34 million on Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) and another 8.3 million on YouTube (Li has been active on YouTube for the last two years, despite it being officially blocked in China).

    Li’s videos – which she initially produced by herself and now makes with a small team – emphasize beautiful countryside and ancient tradition. In videos soundtracked by tranquil flute music, Li crafts her own furniture out of bamboo and dyes her clothing with fruit skins. If she wants soy sauce, she grows the soybeans themselves; a video about making an egg yolk dish starts with her hatching ducklings. The meals she creates are often elaborate demonstrations of how many delicious things can be done with a particular seasonal ingredient, like ginger or green plums.

    There is even a Li Ziqi online shop, where fans can purchase versions of the steel “chopper” knife she uses to dice the vegetables she plucks from her plentiful garden, or replicas of the old-fashioned shirts she wears while foraging for wild mushrooms and magnolia blossoms in the misty mountainside.

    While she occasionally reveals a behind-the-scenes peek at her process, Li – who did not respond to interview requests for this article – is very private. By all accounts, she struggled to find steady work in a city before returning to the countryside to care for her ailing grandmother (who appears in her videos).

    Recently, Li has been thrust into a wider spotlight by the Chinese government, who seem to have realized her soft power potential. In 2018, the Communist party of China named her a “good young netizen” and role model for Chinese youth. In September 2019, the People’s Daily, a CPC mouthpiece, gave Li their “People’s Choice” award, while last month, state media praised Li for helping to promote traditional culture globally, and the Communist Youth League named her an ambassador of a program promoting the economic empowerment of rural youth.

    As the government increasingly champions her, Chinese citizens have taken to Weibo to question whether Li’s polished, rather one-dimensional portrayal of farm work conveys anything truly meaningful about contemporary China – especially to her growing international audience on YouTube.

    They have a point: Li’s videos reveal as much about the day-to-day labor of most Chinese farmers as the Martha Stewart Show does the American working class. As Li Bochun, director of Beijing-based Chinese Culture Rejuvenation Research Institute told the media last month: “The traditional lifestyle Li Ziqi presents in her videos is … not widely followed.”

    In reality, many of China’s rural villages have shrunk or disappeared completely in past decades as the nation prioritized urbanization and workers migrated to cities, with research suggesting the country lost 245 rural villages a day from 2000 to 2010. The 40% of China’s population still living in rural areas encompass a huge diversity of experience, yet life can be difficult, with per-capita rural income declining sharply since 2014 and environmental pollution often as rife as in industrial centers. That’s not to say the beautiful forests and compelling traditions of Li’s videos are not genuine – like many social media creators, she simply focuses on the most charming elements of a bigger picture.

    So what do Li’s videos reflect about modern China, if not average daily life in the countryside?

    For one, they say something about the mindset of her mainland audience – primarily urban millennials, for whom a traditional culture craze known as “fugu” or “hanfu” has been an aesthetic trend for a number of years.

    “Fugu”, according to Yang Chunmei, professor of Chinese history and philosophy at Qufu Normal University, reflects the “romanticized, pastoral” desires of youth “disillusioned by today’s ever-changing, industrial, consumerist society.” In practice, it looks like young people integrating more traditional clothing into their daily looks, watching historical dramas and following rural lifestyle influencers like Li. (While Li is an extremely popular example of the trend, she’s not the only young farmer vlogging in China right now, and outdoor cooking videos of people making meals with wild ingredients and scant equipment are a genre of their own on Douyin.)

    Among urban millennials in the west, giving up the nine-to-five grind and living humbly and closer to nature is a popular dream. In China, the contemporary experience of burnout is compounded by the intensity of “urban disease”, an umbrella term for the difficulties of living in megacities like Shanghai or Guangzhou, which can be used to refer to everything from traffic jams and poor air quality to employment and housing scarcity.

    Also at play in Li’s popularity is the particular tenor of Chinese wistfulness. “It’s called xiangchou. Xiang means the countryside or rural life, and chou means to long for it, to miss it,” says Linda Qian, an Oxford University PhD candidate studying nostalgia’s role in the revitalization of China’s villages.

    “It is quite prevalent for youth living the city life. They get really sick of [the city] so the countryside” – or a fantasy of it – “looks increasingly like the ideal image of what a good life should be.”

    Qian also likens Li’s appeal to that of “Man vs Wild”-style entertainment in the west. “We’ve gotten to a certain point of materialism and consumption where there’s only so much you can buy, and we’re like, ‘What other experiences can I have?’” she says. “So we go back to what humans can do.”

    Yet as her fame grows internationally, some have questioned, in comments, blogposts and Reddit threads, whether Li’s channel is communist propaganda.

    In addition to providing China a form of international PR, Li embodies a kind of rural success the government hopes to generate more of through recent initiatives. With the aim of alleviating rural poverty, the Communist Youth League has embarked on an effort to send more than 10 million urban youth to “rural zones” by 2022, in order to “increase their skills, spread civilization, and promote science and technology”.

    “We need young people to use science and technology to help the countryside innovate its traditional development models,” Zhang Linbin, deputy head of a township in central Hunan province, told the Global Times last April.

    By using technology to create her own rural economic opportunities while simultaneously championing forms of traditional Chinese culture before a huge audience, Li may seem like a CPC dream come true.

    According to Professor Ka-Ming Wu, a cultural anthropologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong: “Li represents a new wave of Chinese soft power in that she’s so creative and aesthetically good, and knows how to appeal to a general audience whether they’re Chinese or not.” And yet, “I don’t think this is some kind of engineered effort by the Chinese state,” she says.

    Li’s narrative hinges on her failure to thrive in the city; that failure is antithetical to China’s overarching narrative of progress and urban opportunity. Were she a manufactured agent of propaganda, Wu speculates, “[Her failure] is something the Chinese state would never even mention.

    “And I think that’s what really fuels her popularity,” says Wu. “That despair of not being able to find oneself in the ‘Chinese dream’. I don’t think she’s propaganda because one of her major successes is that she’s making that failure highly aesthetic … However, the Chinese government is very smart to appropriate her work and say that she represents traditional culture and promote her.”

    According to some Chinese media, Li’s content is better than propaganda – doing more to generate genuine domestic, and especially international, interest in rural Chinese traditions than any government initiative of the past decade. “Dozens of government departments with billions at their disposal spent 10 years on propaganda projects, but they have done a worse job than a little girl,” writes the South China Morning Post’s Chauncey Jung, summarizing a tweet from journalist Jasper Jia.

    However you feel about Li as a cultural force, her ability to flourish despite a unique set of contradictory circumstances is impressive. Out of the past and present, failure and success, independence and authoritarianism, she’s spun a truly pleasant vision. If only life was really so simple.


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    YouTuber Shows the Differences Between Mainland Chinese Girls vs. ABC Girls

    If you’re wondering what are the differences between girls from Mainland China and girls born in the United States, which is also known as ABC (American Born Chinese), then you are in luck — YouTuber LeendaDProductions is here to enlighten everyone.

    The clip, titled “Mainland Chinese Girls Vs. ABC GIRLS (American Born Chinese),” was first posted on YouTube on Thursday, April 12. It tries to explain the differences between mainland Chinese girls – those who are from China and later moved to the U.S. – and Chinese girls who were born in America.

    First up, the clip used their car as an example. For the mainlanders, they were obviously pretty stacked in cash, considering that they were sent there by their wealthy parents to study – or at least the ones portrayed in the video – so they have their own extremely expensive car.

    The ABCs, on the other hand, are depicted arguing over who will call an Uber ride.

    Later on, the clip explains the difference of mainlanders and ABCs when it comes to paying the bill. The former handles it pretty eagerly, while the latter really splits everything equally among the group.

    To be fair, the latter doesn’t just cover ABCs, but others as well like young adults living alone for the first time or college students – or pretty much just anyone who is tight on budget.

    There’s also the Friday nights party where the mainlanders just sit cozily on the couch in the club with their phones out and taking selfies, while the ABCs really knows how to party hard!

    Check out the full video below:

    Images via YouTube / LeendaDProductions

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