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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.

Manya Koetse

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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 founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Celebs

“A Good Day” – Kris Wu Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison

The first woman who came forward to accuse Kris Wu in 2021 celebrated his sentencing in a livestream.

Manya Koetse

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The Chinese-Canadian fallen celebrity Kris Wu, better known as Wu Yifan (吴亦凡) in China, has been dominating Chinese social media discussions after a preliminary court ruling came out in the criminal case in which Wu was accused of rape and other sex crimes.

On November 25, the Beijing Chaoyang district court found Wu guilty of raping three women in his home in 2020 and of “gathering people to commit adultery.” He was sentenced to 13 years in prison followed by deportation.

Kris Wu is a 32-year old rapper, singer, and actor who was born in Guangzhou and moved to Vancouver with his mother at the age of ten. Wu also spent a part of his high school years in Guangzhou, but he holds a Canadian passport. He became famous as a member of the K-pop band Exo and later started a solo career.

As an actor, he starred in several award-winning movies. He also starred in Sweet Sixteen, a movie in which Wu ironically plays the role of someone getting jailed for shooting a rapist.

The 19-year-old student Du Meizhu (都美竹) was the first to accuse Wu of predatory behavior online in 2021, with at least 24 more women also coming forward claiming the celebrity showed inappropriate behavior and had pressured young women into sexual relationships. As the scandal unfolded, various hashtags related to the story received billions of views on Weibo. Wu was formally arrested on suspicion of rape in mid-August 2021.

On Friday, Meizhu posted “Finally [I’ve waited for this]” on her social media account. She also briefly joined a livestream in which she celebrated the sentencing and played the song “A Good Day” (“好日子”).

On Weibo, the hashtag “Wu Yifan Gets 13 Years” [13 years prison sentence in preliminary ruling] (#吴亦凡一审被判13年#) received nearly 1,8 billion views on Friday.

Noteworthy enough, the Kris Wu hashtag was also being used by netizens to discuss the tragic Urumqi fire which was also a major trending topic on the same day.

Some speculated that the media attention for the Kris Wu case was being used to overshadow the Urumqi news. Others condemned social media users for turning to celebrity news instead of focusing on the tragic fire in Xinjiang’s capital.

At the same time, there was also a running joke on social media in light of China’s ongoing ‘zero Covid’ policy, with people saying: “Who will come out first, Kris Wu or us?”

By Manya Koetse 

Featured image: Kris Wu starring in Sweet Sixteen movie.

 

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China Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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