China’s ‘Lipstick King’ is back on Alibaba’s Taobao Live after a three-month absence

On Tuesday night, Li Jiaqi appeared again on Alibaba’s Taobao Live, the e-commerce giant’s live streaming platform.

His show immediately attracted thousands of viewers in the first few minutes, despite no prior notice on his social media accounts. By the end of the two-hour show, 63 million viewers had watched his live stream, more than most previous shows. But still less traffic than the major shopping festivals.

The 30-year-old streamer, 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 in five minutes in a sales competition against Alibaba founder Jack Ma, earning himself the nickname “China’s Lipstick King.”

But the superstar salesman has been silent since early June after abruptly suspending his popular show on the eve of this year’s anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Before the impromptu ending, Li showed her audience a multi-layer ice cream decorated with Oreos and a wafer. It looked like a tank.

Analysts said Li was almost certainly censored by the government, as the shape of the tank is a sensitive symbol in China, linked by many to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. taboo and time is “deadly,” according to Rongbin Han, an associate professor at the University of Georgia.

On Tuesday’s show, Li did not explain why she disappeared or where she had gone for the past three months.

The products, including cosmetics, skin care products, and fashion apparel, were quickly snapped up by passionate fans, focusing solely on presentation. One of the best selling items it was a face cream that sold over 50,000 units Total sales of 12.3 million yuan ($1.75 million).

“You’re finally here!” said some fans in the comments of the bullets that ran across the screen. “Welcome!”

The fans were so enthusiastic that they bought many of the goods faster than expected, forcing Li to end the show earlier than usual. His previous live shows usually last more than three hours.

“Today, the merchandise has been prepared in a hurry, and many girls couldn’t take it,” Li said at the end of the live stream, adding that she was sorry for causing a bad shopping experience because there wasn’t enough merchandise. .

“How do we end it for now, and then we will continue to broadcast when we have enough assets,” he said. “See you tomorrow, girls.”

Li’s comeback has quickly gone viral on social media, with many Weibo users giving the live-streaming star a wild welcome.

“I burst into tears when I saw it again on the screen!” said one. “I’ve waited so long!”

“I’m ready to shop!” said another user.

Li wasn’t the only live star to disappear in recent months.

    E-commerce live streamer Austin Li Jiaqi presents the goods to online fans.
Viya, who until recently was known as the “queen of live streaming”, has not appeared online since December, when authorities set her a record $210 million. for tax fraud. The 36-year-old had millions of followers on China’s top social media and shopping platforms – including Weibo, Taobao and China’s Douyin version of TikTok – but her accounts were taken down in December.

The sudden rise and fall of China’s most prominent players underscores the vulnerability of those dependent on the Internet in the world’s second-largest economy.

In June, just two weeks after Li’s disappearance, Beijing stepped up its crackdown on the country’s thriving live-streaming industry. Regulators released new rules banning 31 “misconduct” by live-streaming hosts, and requiring them to “uphold correct political and social values.”

China's economy is in bad shape and could stay that way for some time

But a sharp crackdown on the balloon live streaming industry may not be good news for China’s economy.

The world’s second largest economy is facing serious economic problems. Consumer spending is weak, while youth unemployment is near historic highs.
Policymakers now face greater challenges to keep growth and jobs stable as the country grapples with the impact of Beijing’s adherence to a rigid zero-Covid policy, a tough regulatory crackdown on the private sector and a rising bad debt real estate crisis. in the banks and growing social protests.