Li Ziqi must be one of the most powerful and influential social media influencers in the world. Li Ziqi is one of China’s biggest social media stars. She is 29 years old and has 22 million followers on Weibo, 34 million on Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) and another 8.3 million on YouTube. That is A LOT of followers.
Watch the video above to get an introduction to Li Ziqi and what she does.
Then read the article below and answer the TEN questions using NO MORE than THREE WORDS from the text;
What was Li unable to find in the city?
Who recently acknowledged Li for her promotion of traditional culture?
In the last 10 years, what have Li's videos created a lot of interest in?
In recent decades what has got smaller in China?
What percentage of the Chinese population live in urban environments?
What may many of Li's followers be searching for?
What have many westerners wanted to escape from?
What over-aching term refers to the problems associated with living in a big city?
What type of western entertainment does Lind Qian say Li's appeal is similar to?
What does the Chinese Youth League hope to use to modernise traditional rural development models?
Li’s videos emphasize beautiful countryside and ancient tradition. In her videos, 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. Li returned to the countryside to care for her ailing grandmother after she failed to secure meaningful work in the city.
In 2018, the Communist party of China (CPC) named her a “good young netizen” and role model for Chinese youth, while last month, state media praised Li for helping to promote traditional culture globally. There is no doubt that Li's videos have generated much more genuine domestic, and especially international, interest in rural Chinese traditions than any government initiative of the past decade.
However, the traditional lifestyle Li Ziqi presents in her videos is not representative of the general reality in rural China. In reality, many rural villages have shrunk or disappeared completely in past decades as the nation prioritized urbanization 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.
But it may not be 'reality' that a lot of Li's followers are looking for but rather a nostalgia for a past time which was simpler, more natural, less stressful, slower and much more fulfilling. Many Chinese urban millennials are disillusioned with the fast-paced, industrial, consumerist urban society and yearn for a more natural and simpler lifestyle. This trend is called 'fugu' in Chinese.
While among westerners the desire to 'get away' from the rat race of modern city life has been a popular dream for nearly 50 years, in China it is a relatively new trend due to the speed of the changes and 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.
Linda Qian, an Oxford University PhD candidate studying nostalgia’s role in the revitalization of China’s villages, 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.”
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 innovate traditional rural development models through the use of science and technology.
According to some Chinese media, Li’s videos is better than dozens of government initiatives and projects aimed at promoting the rural lifestyle..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.
When you are ready, enter your answers in the test form below.