China’s ‘Lipstick King’ Returns To Live-Streaming Show


Hong Kong (CNN Business)One of China’s most popular livestreamers quietly resurfaced online Tuesday night, after a three-month absence linked to his appearance with a cake shaped like a tank, in what many believed was an oblique reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

On Tuesday night, Li Jiaqi reappeared on Alibaba’s Taobao Live, a live-streaming platform for the e-commerce giant.
His show immediately attracted thousands of viewers within the first few minutes, despite no prior notices on his social media accounts. By the end of the two-hour show, 63 million viewers had watched his live-stream, higher than most of his previous shows. But still lower than the traffic during major shopping festivals.
The 30-year-old livestreamer, also called Austin Li, was one of China’s biggest internet celebrities, with 64 million followers on Alibaba’s Taobao. He once sold 15,000 lipsticks within five minutes in a sales competition against Alibaba founder Jack Ma, winning himself the nickname “China’s lipstick king.”
But the superstar salesman had gone silent since early June after his popular show was abruptly cut off on the eve of this year’s anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Just before the abrupt ending, Li had shown his audience a multi-layered ice cream treat decorated with Oreos and wafers. It resembled a tank.
Li was almost certainly censored by the government, as the tank shape is a sensitive symbol in China, associated by many with the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Although Li might have just made an “inadvertent” mistake, the Tiananmen crackdown is a clear taboo and the timing is “fatal,” according to Rongbin Han, an associate professor at the University of Georgia.

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