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Six Years After Becoming a Viral Hit, “Little Jack Ma” is Not Doing Well At All

Recent videos of ‘Little Jack Ma’ have caused concern among netizens. They are angry at those who exploited and abandoned him.

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He became famous overnight for looking like a mini-version of Jack Ma. Now, he’s worse off than before he became an online sensation.

Six years after he became famous for looking like Alibaba founder Jack Ma (Ma Yun 马云), the young boy known as ‘Little Jack Ma’ seems to be struggling and lagging behind his peers.

The boy’s name is Fan Xiaoqin (范小勤) and he is from a rural village in Yongfeng County in Jiangxi Province. In November of 2015, at eight years old, he became an online sensation for resembling Jack Ma. After his photo went viral – one of his cousins initially posted it online – he was nicknamed ‘Little Jack Ma’ (also ‘Mini Ma Yun’, 小马云).

Fan Xiaoqin’s resemblance to Jack Ma is so striking, that there have even been persistent fake news posts including a photo of Fan, claiming it is Jack Ma as a young boy.

On the left, photo of Fan Xiaoqin that is often falsely claimed to be Jack Ma. On the right, an actual photo of Jack Ma as a young boy.

Fan Xiaoqin was all the rage – he even became a meme. People wanted to take a photograph with him, companies wanted him to promote their business, and social media influencers wanted to share a moment with him for clout-chasing reasons. ‘Little Jack Ma’ traveled the country to attend banquets and fashion shows and to meet with celebrities.

One of Little Jack Ma’s press photos.

After Jack Ma himself even acknowledged the resemblance between him and Xiaoqin in a Weibo post, Chinese state media claimed Alibaba was funding Fan Xiaoqin’s education until university graduation, something that was soon denied by the company’s spokesperson.

State media reported that his education would be funded (left), a rumor that was later debunked (Fortune, right).

At the time, the boy’s sudden fame was already a cause of concern to some. Just a year after becoming famous, it became known that Fan was not doing well at school and that his parents, who are poor and struggling with health issues -his mum has polio and his dad is handicapped -, did not know who to trust or how to deal with their son’s rise to fame.

 

A Tragic Story Behind a Famous Meme


 

At the height of his fame, Xiaoqin was managed by a company that arranged his gigs and he also had his own nanny to accompany him during his travels and performances. At events and dinners, Xiaoqin was often constantly playing a role and shouting out Alibaba slogans.

Traveling with his nanny during the peak of his fame.

Image via https://www.sohu.com/a/449433430_113692.

Now, Fan Xiaoqin is once again a topic of online conversation as recent videos and a live stream on the boy came out, showing the boy is back with his family in the village.

He was previously let go by the company that managed him. His former official Weibo account and Kuaishou account, where he was known as ‘Chairman Little Jack Ma’ (小马云总裁) are no longer online, and there have been no new updates on his activities since the launch of a Mini Jack Ma schoolbag in 2019.

The video shows that the boy, both physically and mentally, appears to be much younger than his actual age. At the age of 14, his physique is more similar to a 6 or 7-year-old child and he suffers from painful legs. Another video also shows that the boy falls behind in language development and struggles to answer the most basic math questions.

Screenshot of the livestream that is making its ways around Chinese social media.

The moment that Xiaoqin is approached by the (self-media) reporters live streaming their visit, he walks up in dirty clothes and says: “Money, do you have money?”

According to an article on Sohu by author Li Honghuo (李洪伙), the company that managed Xiaoqin promised to send the family 2000 yuan ($310) every month, but they have stopped issuing payments seven months ago.

News about Fan Xiaoqin’s current situation triggered anger online, with many people saying Fan Xiaoqin is a victim of greedy people who exploited the boy and then abandoned him. The recent video shows the boy has small spots on his skin; some claim it is because the boy was given hormones to slow down his growth.

What commenters are most upset about is how Xiaoqin did not get the chance to properly go to school together with his peers, and that the most important years of his childhood were taken away from him for a piece of fame that eventually left him empty-handed. He now seems to be worse off than before he became ‘Little Jack Ma.’

“They abandoned him once he was no longer of value to them,” some say. “They destroyed him, let’s hope he can still lead a happy life.”

Some people also wonder if the child has an intellectual disability, with his situation only getting worse during the years he was exploited. They blame his parents for allowing their son to be taken away from them.

But there are also those who criticize the people who now visited Xiaoqin and filmed him, questioning their intentions and calling on people to leave the child in peace.

Overall, the majority of commenters still hope that Xiaoqin can receive a proper education and enjoy what is left of his childhood.

 
By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Celebs

Weibo Shuts Down Rumors of Tong Liya’s Alleged Marriage to CMG President Shen Haixiong

The censorship surrounding the Tong Liya story almost drew more attention than the actual rumors themselves.

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The famous actress and dancer Tong Liya (佟丽娅, 1983) has had an eventful year. After hosting the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2020, she performed at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in February of 2021 and in May she announced that after seven years of marriage, she finalized her divorce with actor and director Chen Sicheng (陈思诚).

Tong Liya is of Xibe ethnicity and was born in Xinjiang. The former beauty pageant and award-winning actress is known for her roles in many films and TV series, such as those in The Queens and Beijing Love Story. She also starred in the 2021 Chinese historical film 1921, which focuses on the founding of the Communist Party of China.

This month, online rumors about Tong flooded the internet, alleging that she was recently remarried to Shen Haixiong (慎海雄, 1967), the deputy minister of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the President of the CMG (China Media Group), which includes CCTV, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Some of the rumors included those claiming the actress was previously Shen’s mistress, or netizens connecting Tong Liya’s relations with such an influential and powerful person to her role at the previous CCTV Spring Gala Festival.

But these rumors did not stay online for long, and the quick censorship itself became somewhat of a spectacle. As reported by China Digital Times, the topic ‘Tong Liya’s Remarriage’ (‘佟丽娅再婚’) was completely taken offline.

Following the rumors and censorship, it first was announced that Tong reported the online rumors about her to the police, with the hashtag “Tong Liya Reports the Case to Authorities” (#佟丽娅报案#) receiving over 310 million clicks. On December 23rd, the hashtag “Beijing Police is Handling Tong Liya’s Report” (#北京警方受理佟丽娅报案#) went viral online, attracting over 1.7 billion (!) views on Weibo within three days.

The Beijing Haidian police statement on Weibo is as follows:

In response to the recent rumors on the Internet, the public security authorities have accepted Tong Liya’s report, and the case is now under investigation. The internet is not a place beyond the law, and illegal acts such as starting rumors and provoking trouble will be investigated and punished according to the law.”

The statement led to some confused responses among netizens who wanted to know more about what was actually reported and what it is the police are exactly ‘investigating.’

On Twitter, Vice reporter Viola Zhou wrote that the censorship “angered many young people,” some of whom lost their social media accounts for discussing Tong Liya’s second marriage: “It’s now prompting a mass pushback against the potential abuse of censorship power.”

In an attempt to circumvent censorship, and perhaps also ridicule it, some netizens even resorted to morse code to write about Tong Liya.

One Weibo post about the issue by Legal Daily received over 3000 comments, yet none were displayed at the time of writing.

The case is allegedly still being investigated by Beijing authorities.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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